Reports of UFO sightings have seen a massive decline over the past few years, according to US-based NUFORC (National UFO Reporting Centre). The reasons given for this are highly speculative ranging from governments intercepting electronic reports, to the question of whether extra-terrestrials are still interested in Earth.
At Mzansi Life we figure that the answer is not that complicated. People are just not looking up in the sky as much as they used to. Instead, everyone’s face is glued to their cell phone screen.
Nowadays, people are so attached to their cellphones that a 2016 study noted a high prevalence of interpersonal-type attachment to mobile phones among young people.
It comes as no surprise then to witness the levels of anxiety that people go through when they lose their cellphone.
In most cases, it is not the loss of the device itself that is the cause of distress, but rather the loss of hordes of information, including contact details, important documents, pictures, music and, as we learned recently, even incriminating private videos that might be stored on the phone.
With this in mind, and taking into consideration how many people lose their phones every year, particularly during the festive season, which is about to kick off in SA, the guys at Alcatel have put together a list of precautionary measures that Android users can take to protect their phone and the data it holds.
Back up your data
You can easily back up most of your data to your Google account in the cloud, so that you can quickly retrieve your settings and information if your smartphone gets lost or stolen. Ensure that you have activated Android’s built-in backup feature. Go into Settings > Backup and reset and check ‘Back up my data’ as well as ‘Automatic restore’.
This will keep an automatic backup of your Android data and settings in the cloud, including Google Contacts data, Google Calendar events and settings, Wi-Fi networks and passwords, Gmail setting and apps. Cloud-based storage service like Dropbox and Google Drive make it easy to back up your files, while the free Google Photos app will automatically sync every image and video on your device with the cloud.
Enable Find My Device
Find My Device helps you easily locate a lost Android device and keeps your information safe while you look for it. Follow these steps to make sure it is enabled:
Go to Google Settings > Security > Find My Device.
Ensure Find My Device is enabled.
Make sure the app has permission to access your location data and enable Remotely Locate This Device.
Enable remote lock and erase in Device Manager so you can erase your personal data if you can’t recover your phone.
Ensure screen lock is enabled
Your smartphone is more likely to get lost or stolen than to be hacked – so make sure you protect it and your personal data from unauthorised users. You can lock down your Android phone by setting a screen lock. Each time you turn on your device or wake up the screen, you’ll be asked to unlock your device, usually with a PIN, pattern, or password.
Open your device’s Settings app.
Tap Security & location.
To pick a kind of screen lock, tap Screen lock.
If you’ve already set a lock, you’ll need to enter your PIN, pattern, or password before you can pick a different lock.
Tap the screen lock option you’d like to use. Follow the on-screen instructions.
Update your apps
It can be a bit of a drag, but your holiday preparations are an opportunity to update all the apps on your Android device. Most Android apps are updated often to address security vulnerabilities. Also, take the opportunity to delete old apps you are not using and to restrict features like location tracking on apps that don’t need them
To automatically update apps on your Android device:
Open the Google Play Store app.
Tap Menu Settings.
Tap Auto-update apps.
Select an option: Auto update apps at any time to update apps using either Wi-Fi or mobile data. Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only to update apps only when connected to Wi-Fi.
Consider using antimalware software
Theft of the physical device is a bigger danger than a virus. Plus, Google’s own Google Play Protect is reasonably good at keeping the malware nasties at bay. But if you will be using a lot of public networks in your trip, you get extra peace of mind by using a third-party antivirus app such as Avast Mobile Security, AVG, Kaspersky or Sophos.
Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you’re not using them
Switching off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections when you are not using them will shut down a potential security vulnerability. When you do connect to a public Wi-Fi network, be careful about the sort of information you access and share. For example, it’s best not to do your online banking at the hotel or nearest coffee shop if you cannot be sure of how secure the network is.
Always know where your smartphone is
This should go without saying, but don’t leave your smartphone unattended while you go for a dip. If you choose to leave it in your hotel, lock it up in your safe. And always keep it with you if you’re flying – don’t put it into the luggage you are checking in for the flight.
Be careful about social media posts
As much as we all like to share our holiday experiences on Facebook and Instagram, be careful about the amount of information you disclose. For example, don’t make it too obvious how long you will be away in case a criminal is monitoring your social media accounts. And as always, don’t disclose information that could an identity thief could use to access your bank accounts and other information.