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Privacy on the go

We live in a world where technological advances have given us the ability to communicate, work, study, be entertained, and be informed all while on the go.  Whether traveling, waiting in a doctor’s office, standing in line at the grocery store, or waiting for a table at a restaurant, mobile devices allow us to stay connected.  Not only can we check emails but we can also deposit a check, transfer funds from one account to another, pay bills, and purchase concert tickets all from our smartphones and tablets.

From the network that is transmitting the data to someone simply watching over our shoulders, privacy should be a concern when it comes to mobile devices.  Here are some ways you can help protect your privacy while on the go.

Be mindful of conversations

Mobile phones allow us to talk anytime and anywhere but be careful – you never know who is listening so don’t give out any personal information while in a public place.  For example, let’s say you want to check your credit card balance.  Many automated systems let you talk to a recorded voice so you would say ‘check my balance’.  Then the voice would say ‘please say or enter your account number’.  If you say your account number someone may be listening and could write down the numbers you say.  Sometimes, these recorded voices ask you to say or enter your social security number.  If you have the option to enter the information choose to do so if you are in a public place and remember to make sure no one can see what you are entering.

Keep devices in sight

I don’t need to tell you mobile devices can be expensive and therefore are magnets for thieves.  Thieves also want these devices because of the potential personal information on them.  Never leave devices unattended.  Also make sure you have not left anything behind if you have been traveling or sitting somewhere like the library or a café.  Protect your devices and any information you may be carrying.

Be careful where apps are purchased and downloaded

We all want the newest apps but make sure you are purchasing and downloading them from reputable sources.  You don’t want your credit card information in the wrong hands.  Also, make sure you understand the privacy settings on the apps and the permissions they are asking you to give them.  Why would a game app need access to your contacts and photos?  If apps ask for access that doesn’t make sense – delete them.

Know what you are connecting to

 It is impossible to stay connected without access to the internet.  Be extremely careful when connecting to free public hot spots.  Don’t connect to networks you are not 100% sure of especially if they do not require a password.

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Christina Bonds

Christina Bonds is an Application Specialist in the Web Technology department at Elon University.

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