10 tips to make your phone more secure

Protect yourself

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Your smartphone is more precious than your wallet, your keys and in some cases, your actual computer when it comes to sensitive information - but we all have that nagging guilt that we don't do enough to protect our devices beyond perhaps having a four digit pass code.

Thankfully we are here to help with some top-level tips to help make your phone more secure, protecting those all important messages and images that you don't want falling into the wrong hands.

With around 314 mobiles stolen a day on the streets of London, the risk of things getting out is extremely high.

Of course if you're looking to keep your phone safe from international spies, or snooping networks, you can always check out the BlackPhone... but if you're just the average smartphone user who wants to be a little safer, follow some of our tips below.

1. Update your software

Whether you are running iOS, Android or Windows Phone we will always advise you to grab the latest version of the OS available. This can be a little difficult with Android updates often taking a little while to go through manufacturer and network testing but is well worth it.

Part of the reason we suggest grabbing the latest OS is because it comes with all the added bonuses whether it's the Control Center of iOS7 or the clear bars on Android KitKat, but also because a lot of security loopholes will have been closed.

These updates don't just pop up in major iterations either; Apple is currently pushing out iOS 7.0.6 in order to close a problem associated with using Apple devices on an unsecured network.

Most manufacturers allow you to set your phone to check for updates automatically, so always make sure this box is ticked.

2. Use a secure lock screen

It seems almost nonsensical in this day and age to not have a basic password on your lock screen, even if it is a basic one. One of the first things we'd suggest is to navigate into your device's security settings and enable a pass lock.

There are obvious benefits to having even a basic lock, but whilst face lock of Android might seem fun it isn't the most secure system out there, with many Google devices rating the effectiveness of each security system so you can make an informed choice.

Face unlock
Looks fun, but isn't secure

Pattern unlocks and pins are some of the most secure but if you can handle the hassle we'd always suggest a full alphanumeric password. Also ensure that any boxes that say "make passwords visible" are also unticked.

If you want to take it one step further then we'd also recommend changing your pass code regularly in case someone spots what you've typed in over your shoulder.

3. Install antivirus software

One of the biggest threats that could see data leaked is the less-than-humble virus. The problem isn't as widespread as on desktop computers, and if you don't download dodgy software chances are that within a 2 year contract you won't come across anything malicious, but there is still a credible threat out there.

The problem appears to be less hazardous for iPhones thanks to Apple's strict controlling of the App store. The open source nature of Android makes it a lot more vulnerable, as malicious apps can be sideloaded onto the device without being checked by Google. In both cases this is something that can be countered through the use of mobile Antivirus software.

The likes of McAfee, AVG and Lookout grace both the iOS App Store and the Google Play store for added security, but obviously be careful of any apps that seem a little suspicious.

If you're really worried check out the manufacturer's website as most will come with a link to their mobile app.

4. Disable apps from untrusted sources and don't root or jailbreak

Whilst it can often be a nice idea to download and install apps that aren't found on the App Store or Google Play Store, these apps tend to be the ones that are less secure. Google, Apple and Microsoft, as well as the likes of BlackBerry, keep tabs on the apps that are on their app portals.

This means apps that contain malicious code are likely to have been removed before you install them.

Rooting your Android phone or jailbreaking your iPhone can also prove really dangerous, especially if you don't know what you're doing. This is because it breaks down your OS and provides you access to the basic code within and if you can get access, malicious code has a much easier route to making changes too.

If you're more familiar with the world of rooting and jailbreaking then you'll have taken measures to ensure the security of your device - so make sure you're certain you know what you want when altering your handset.

5. Use lock code apps and vaults

One thing that can be particularly important for protecting vital messages and pictures is to add a second layer of security. If you've got a pass code that somehow manages to get into the wrong hands then all your data could potentially be at risk.

Lock code
Locked and vaulted

With another app you can then add another layer of security by protecting apps with a second code. Vault apps also allow you to be safe by storing all the files that you want to secure within a dedicated area of your device or on an SD card, as well as being able to wipe the data after unsuccessful log in attempts.

Samsung's new Galaxy S5 features a fingerprint scanner to hide certain parts of your phone too - it might not be the easiest thing to use, but at least you can be doubly secure that nobody can get into the places you want hidden.