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Secure your mobile devices — and your life!

With nearly all personal data in the cloud these days, keeping the devices that access that data is more important than ever.
Digital devices (Intel)
Digital devices (Intel)

Hackers are in the headlines and your world is in the cloud. How do you secure your life in these promising yet dangerous times?

Keep Away From Public WiFi

When I bought my first smartphone — a Galaxy S1 Mini — I got a thrill from connecting to free WiFi on trains, malls and everywhere I could connect to for free. Big mistake. Free WiFi comes with a price — it is never secure. Don’t dare connect to a free WiFi. The only WiFi you should ever use is the one at home that connects to your home router or modem.

Hackers can easily setup a “free WiFi” and the masses connect to them, giving all of their secrets away at ease. If you have a 3GB data plan, stick with it. Better to pay a bit more and not expose your life to hackers.

Dual Authentication for the Win

Single authentication is something you know — a password. Dual authentication is something you have — a device. Secure your major accounts — Google Drive, OneDrive, Facebook and everything else — with dual authentication.

In English, this means you receive a text message on your smartphone to confirm your login. The only one who can login is the one who owns your device — that’s you.

When you go overseas and don’t have access to your smartphone, you can request login codes. When I travel overseas, I print out a list of dual authentication login codes. I put them in my backpack and have them on me when I travel. Don’t put this vital piece of paper in your luggage. Keep it on you and never lose it.

Be Picky with Your Passwords

Pick complex passwords. Don’t use obvious passwords with easy patterns. Make the hackers work hard and they will move onto easier prey. Save your passwords in a secure place. Don’t use the same passwords that you use for social networks for your banking.

If you upload a password file to the cloud, don’t call it “passwords.txt”. Change your passwords every few months.

Don’t Upload the Shady Stuff

If you have a collection of um, shady or explicit photos or content, don’t upload it to the cloud. Keep it on your computer and hard drives, but don’t be tempted to upload this stuff to Google Drive or OneDrive. You can live without it while visiting your parents.

Everything you upload to the cloud can be hacked. Don’t forget this.

Keep Your Phone Number to Yourself

Every time I go to a new store or cafe, they ask for my phone number and in return, I get a free cup of espresso. No thanks. I don’t want your text messages on my phone, and I don’t need to publicize my phone number to the masses. Think twice before you give a commercial entity your phone number or information.

Skip the discount. You don’t know who will have access to your phone number and what they will do with it.

There’s no easy way to secure your life online — welcome to 2015. You can avoid the easy traps by skipping public WiFi, using dual authentication and taking a few simple steps. Make the hackers work hard!

About the Author
Kenny Sahr is a startup marketing executive. His first startup, founded in 1996, was featured in Time Magazine and on 60 Minutes. Kenny moved to Israel from Miami, Florida. In his spare time, he is an avid music collector and traveler.
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