Cybersafety Tips

With more wireless devices than people in the U.S., we have the ability to communicate anytime, anywhere.

As our use of the devices increases and expands to new features and functions in other areas such as banking and healthcare, they may hold even more personal data.

By following CTIA–The Wireless Association® and its members' simple CYBERSAFETY tips, consumers can actively protect themselves and their data.

Check to make sure the websites, downloads, SMS links, etc. are legitimate and trustworthy BEFORE you visit or add to them to your mobile device so you can avoid adware/spyware/ viruses/unauthorized charges/etc. Spyware and adware may provide unauthorized access to your information, such as location, websites visited and passwords, to questionable entities. You can validate an application's usage by checking with an application store. To ensure a link is legitimate, search the entity's website and match it to the unknown URL.

Year-round, 24/7, always use and protect your wireless device with passwords and PINs to prevent unauthorized access. Passwords/PINs should be hard to guess, changed periodically and never shared. When you aren't using your device, set its inactivity timer to a reasonably short period (i.e., 1–3 minutes).

Back-up important files from your wireless device to your personal computer or to a cloud service/ application periodically in case your wireless device is compromised, lost or stolen.

Examine your monthly wireless bill to ensure there is no suspicious and unauthorized activity. Many wireless providers allow customers to check their usage 24/7 by using shortcuts on their device, calling a toll-free number or visiting their website. Contact your wireless provider for details.

Read user agreements BEFORE installing software or applications to your mobile device. Some companies may use your personal information, including location, for advertising or other uses. Unfortunately, there are some questionable companies that include spyware/malware/viruses in their software or applications.

Sensitive and personal information, such as banking or health records, should be encrypted or safeguarded with additional security features, such as Virtual Private Networks (VPN). For example, many applications stores offer encryption software that can be used to encrypt information on wireless devices.

Avoid rooting, jailbreaking or hacking your mobile device and its software as it may void your device's warranty and increase the risk of cyberthreats to a wireless device.

Features and apps that can remote lock, locate and/ or erase your device should be installed and used to protect your wireless device and your personal information from unauthorized users.

Enlist your wireless provider and your local police when your wireless device is stolen. If your device is lost, ask your provider to put your account on "hold" in case you find it. In the meantime, your device is protected and you won't be responsible for charges if it turns out the lost device was stolen. The U.S. providers are creating a database designed to prevent smartphones, which their customers report as stolen, from being activated and/or provided service on the networks.

Train yourself to keep your mobile device's operating system (OS), software or apps updated to the latest version. These updates often fix problems and possible cyber vulnerabilities. You may need to restart your mobile device after the updates are installed so they are applied immediately. Many smartphones and tablets are like mini-computers so it's a good habit to develop.

You should never alter your wireless device's unique identification numbers (i.e., International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) and Electronic Serial Number (ESN)). Similar to a serial number, the wireless network authenticates each mobile device based on its unique number.

Last Updated: October 2012

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