Simple steps can help protect smartphone info

Consumer Reports finds 40 percent don't secure smart phone data


When Amanda Sutton's smart phone was stolen, she panicked.

"Who knows what they can do with that information? I mean, there's pictures and bank cards and emails," she said.

Unfortunately, Sutton had not taken steps to protect her personal information. And, a new survey by Consumer Reports found she's not alone.

"Nearly 40 percent of smart phone users don't take actions to secure their phones, like backing up their data or simply setting a screen lock," said  Consumer Reports'  Simon Slater.

Even if you do lock, a savvy thief can quickly crack certain four-digit passcodes.

Setting a longer code that includes letters and symbols is more secure, according to Consumer Reports.

Android phones let you do it by going to the phone's settings. After that, each phone is different. On some models, if you  go to "security" and then "screen lock", you can reset your password. On other models, you tap "lock screen" and "screen lock" to change your password.

With iPhones, it's trickier. Under "settings" tap "general" and "passcode" lock." Check that the "simple passcode" is turned "off". Then, you can enter your longer passcode.

Another security risk  is apps that ask permission to do too much, according to Consumer Reports. For example, a flashlight app wanted to know your location and information about  your phone calls.

Adults are not the only ones who need to take precautions. At least 5 million preteens have a smart phone of their own.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.

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