Our smartphones are more than a device for communicating; they store our most personal data, including bank account information, email accounts, photos of loved ones, confidential work-related information, and access to personal identity data…all of which need to be kept safe.\nMany fraud protection articles talk about shopping on a secure site, leaving your social insurance card at home and changing your passwords often. This is all excellent advice, but what about protecting the device that goes with you everywhere and stores everything about you? \nBy implementing the following tips, you can minimize or eliminate the impact of unauthorized access to your smartphone.\nPassword protect your device\nWhether it’s a PIN, pattern, alphanumeric password or biometric meter, it’s crucial to protect your phone. If using an alphanumeric password, ensure that it contains a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Try to avoid four-digit passwords that relate to your birthday or anniversary as these can easily be found on social media. Oh, and avoid any of the PINs below. \nThe data below, compiled by DataGenetics, a tech consulting firm, indicates an alarmingly high frequency of the PIN “1234,” compared to other frequently-used numbers. \n\n Pin #1234 – Frequency 10.713%\n Pin #1111 – Frequency 6.016%\n Pin #0000 – Frequency 1.881%\n Pin #1212 – Frequency 1.197%\n Pin #7777 – Frequency 0.745%\n Pin #1004 – Frequency 0.616%\n Pin #2000 – Frequency 0.613%\n Pin #4444 – Frequency 0.526%\n Pin #2222 – Frequency 0.516%\n Pin #6969 – Frequency 0.512%\n\nUnfortunately, our best intentions can sometimes have flaws. In the case of password protection, there is inevitably that moment when you need to use “Forgot my password”. You enter your email address, and an email is sent with a password reset. This brings us to our next point…\nCreate a strong and unique password for your primary email account\nIf there is one account that should have maximum protection, it is your email account. Protecting your primary email account is the best thing you can do for yourself. \nSome platforms require additional identity verification security by sending a text to your phone with a confirmation code when you sign in from an unusual location. Since many sites allow you to reset a forgotten password, it is imperative that the password associated with your email account be strong. Pick a password, and do not use it (or a variation of it!) for logging into any other accounts.\nInstall a password manager on your smartphone\nNow that your smartphone is password protected, and your primary email account has a unique and strong password that is not used anywhere else — what about all those usernames and passwords you have to remember for the most obscure sites? The ones you use once per year? \nThis is where a password manager can come in handy. These apps provide the advantage of storing your passwords in one secure, encrypted location, rather than having passwords written on paper, or scribbled on post-it notes. Some great password managers include KeePass and LastPass.\nIn my next blog, we will discuss how to best manage the apps on your device and some proactive steps that can be taken to minimize unauthorized access to personal information.\nKeep the conversation going\nIs there anything you do to protect your phone and all the valuable information inside? Post a comment below. \nDisclaimer\nThe views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.