A huge thanks to Purple WiFi for posting this article. I love how this site offers articles that are both informative and sometimes just downright hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing at their two-part series on their favorite WiFi network names! It’s a pleasure to be here.

If you’re like me (and a lot of other people), you keep a lot of your personal information on your smartphone—things such as Social Security numbers for your family, passwords, financial data and more. Obviously this isn’t information you want just anyone to have access to, but it’s incredibly easy for your smartphone to be compromised, even in ways that you might not realize, such as viruses. Here are five ways to help you maximize the security of your phone:

  1. Set a Passcode

If you accidentally leave your phone sitting on a table or somewhere else in public, you don’t want someone to be able to pick it up and start going through your messages or notes, right? But if all a thief has to do is swipe to access everything, you’ve just made it really easy for them. Instead, make sure you set a passcode—even if it takes you that few extra seconds every time you need to access your phone. And don’t use a swipe code; your finger will leave behind a trail on the screen that’s easy for thieves to figure out.

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  1. Encrypt Your Disk

Something else you should do in case your phone is ever lost or stolen is to encrypt your disk. This means that all the information on the disk ends up scrambled and indecipherable to thieves. Even if someone can’t get around your passcode, this will prevent them from just plugging your phone into a computer and accessing your phone’s contents that way instead. Most phones have some sort of encryption software built in. Check your ‘Settings’ menu, but otherwise, you can find apps that will encrypt your data for you.

  1. Be Careful Grabbing New Apps

Believe it or not, apps can be a source of problems on your smartphone. We’re pretty familiar with adware in the free versions of some of our favorite apps—ads that will be removed if you upgrade to the paid version. But a malicious developer could also slip in some malware that will infect your phone. This could take the form of spyware that shares your personal information with a third party. This is especially dangerous if you’ve purchased apps or anything else using your phone since your credit card information might then be compromised.

So make sure you’re only downloading apps from trusted sources. Look for plenty of other downloads and, most importantly, reviews and ratings. If you have an iPhone, you don’t have to worry quite as much since Apple vets any new apps being added to its App Store, but a little caution never hurt anyone.

  1. Download the Security Apps

Regardless of the type of smartphone that you have, a look through the available apps should yield plenty of security apps. Do your research, and make sure you’ve got the best security apps for your phone. A lot of them are free, and even when it comes to paid ones, you’ll often find that the price of the app is a small price to pay when it comes to protecting your personal information. You can use these apps to clear off viruses, check new apps and more. Beyond that, make sure to keep all your apps up to date. A lot of the updates are meant to patch up known security issues.

  1. Use a VPN

When you’re accessing WiFi on the go—whether at a coffee shop, around town or anywhere else—you should make sure you’re using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to get the most secure internet connection possible. Normally when you access the internet, you inadvertently send massive amounts of information from your computer to the servers of the sites that you’re accessing. In addition to the issue of the company compiling and potentially selling off this information, there is also the possibility that a hacker might intercept it, which could include passwords or other sensitive data. A VPN will keep your information out of sight of anyone except you and the server you’re accessing so that you can access public WiFi networks without having to worry about who else is connected to them.

Are there any other methods you use? Let us know below!

Caroline Black is a tech security expert working with Secure Thoughts. As a freelancer who relies on her phone to help her keep in contact with work when she’s on the go, properly securing her smartphone is a topic near and dear to her heart.