How to Secure Your Smartphone from Hackers: A Step-By-Step Guide

two factor authentication 2fa mobile phone security locked passcode

How to Secure Your Smartphone from Hackers: A Step-By-Step Guide

We secure our homes, we secure our cars, we secure our finances… but why don’t we ever take the same sorts of precautions when it comes to our technology? Many of us neglect to secure our laptops or desktop computers, let alone our smartphones or our tablets. However, did you know that there are a number of reasons why you need to secure your smartphone from hackers sooner rather than later? Did you know that there are a variety of steps you can take to immediately begin securing it today? Let’s break everything down in this step-by-step guide below.

Why Secure Your Smartphone From Hackers?

More than anything else, when we think about hacked devices, our mind immediately goes to our computers. However, computers are no longer the only target for today’s cyber criminals. From our smartphones to our tablets to our Internet of Things (IoT) devices, there are a number of cunning new ways for hackers to gain access to your technology that go beyond the limits of the computer alone. One of the most prominent targets? Your smartphone. That’s why it’s so important to secure your smartphone from hackers. Here are a few examples proving this point.

Protect Your Personal Data

There’s practically a 100% chance that your smartphone contains a ton of personal information. From your contacts to your photos to your emails to your text messages, most of us use our smartphones as digital extensions of ourselves. If any part of this information were to fall into the wrong hands, a hacker could use it to steal your identity, commit fraud, or for some other malicious purpose entirely. For this reason, protecting your personal data is a top priority.

Protect Your Finances

Another reason to secure your smartphone from hackers is to protect your finances. From our banking apps to our Venmo or PayPal apps to our digital wallets storing all our card information, most of us have mountains of financial information stored on our smartphones. Imagine how bad it would be if a hacker were to gain access to any part of this information. If protecting your personal data wasn’t reason enough to secure your smartphone from hackers, then protecting your finances should surely be enough to convince you.

Protect Your Privacy

Even if your smartphone was completely wiped of any and all compromising financial, personal, or private information, a hacker gaining access to your smartphone could still put you at serious risk. That’s because your smartphone is constantly collecting data about you whether you know it or not. From your location to your browsing activity to your use habits, your smartphone has more private information on you than you might realize. Protecting your privacy is all the more reason to secure your smartphone from hackers.

Secure Your Smartphone From Hackers

Now that you understand the importance of securing your smartphone from hackers, let’s go over a number of steps to help you do exactly that. From your passwords to your connectivity, your messaging services to your app library, these ten steps will help protect both you and your smartphone from harm. Feel free to pick and choose from this list if you so please, but remember: Enacting all ten from this list will be the best possible way to secure your smartphone from hackers for good.

Step One: Set A Strong Password

More than anything else on your smartphone, staying truly secure begins with setting as strong of a password as possible. Make it unique, make it distinct from the passwords you use for your other accounts, and make sure it’s using a good combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and other special characters. A password generator can create random passwords based on the parameters you set. A password manager can also be particularly helpful in this regard, as it can help keep track of your complicated and secure passwords. From your passcodes to your user IDs, the more secure the better.

1Password vs LastPass
Password generators and password managers are two tools to help you create and store strong passwords.


Step Two: Update Your Software

Just as important as enlisting strong passwords is the simple act of keeping your software up to date. Regardless of if you’re an Android user or an iOS user, many software updates are released because of newly discovered security issues in need of amendment. By installing new software updates as soon as you can after they’re released, you’ll be able to counter these security flaws with ease. It’s one of the most important security measures you can implement, to be sure, and it’s also one of the easiest. All it takes is a simple download and install.

Installing software updates as soon as they are released can help you counter security flaws.

©Shubhashish Chakrabarty/Shutterstock.com

Step Three: Utilize Two-Factor Authentication

Have you ever heard of 2FA, or two-factor authentication? It’s a phrase used to describe an extra layer of security on top of your already-strong password. Whether it be a texted code, a fingerprint, a phone call, an emailed code, a code generator app, or some other form of two-factor authentication entirely, this extra layer of security is practically foolproof. Even if a hacker happens to crack your strong password (which should be hard enough as it is), they are incredibly unlikely to gain access to your particular method of 2FA.

Apple iPhone XS screen with two-factor authentication
Add an extra layer of protection by enabling two-factor authentication.

©Cristian Dina/Shutterstock.com

Step Four: Use Anti-Malware Software

You may or may not use anti-malware software on your computer. Hopefully you do, but even if you don’t, you probably know how much of a threat malware poses to your computer. Malware comes in all shapes and sizes, but it’s all intended for the same purpose: to gain access to your secure or private information. (Contrary to popular belief, even iPhones can be subjected to malware attacks.) For this reason, it’s just as vital to utilize anti-malware software on your smartphone as it is on your computer.

bitdefender antivirus mobile app on a smartphone screen
Using anti-malware software on your mobile devices is just as important as using it on your computer.

©Piotr Swat/Shutterstock.com

Step Five: Take Advantage Of A VPN

It might be surprising to learn that one of the most common ways hackers can gain access to your devices is through free, public Wi-Fi networks. Because these networks are so accessible to the general public, they tend to be incredibly weak compared to the increased security of a private Wi-Fi network. The easiest way to protect your Wi-Fi connection? A virtual private network, or VPN. This tool encrypts your internet connection, making it harder for a hacker to gain control of your device — even on a public network.

vpn on iphone
A virtual private network encrypts your internet connection, making it harder for hackers to access your device.


These days, hackers are so far beyond the traditional methods of cybercrime. In recent years, it’s becoming increasingly less likely to see strange pop-ups or virus-riddled websites. Today, you’re much more likely to see hackers sending emails or texts disguised as trustworthy sources such as Amazon, USPS, Walmart, and the like. For this reason, you should avoid clicking or downloading anything from any suspicious source. Always check the email address or phone number to make sure it’s legit before interacting with it.

Secure Your Smartphone
Always verify the sender’s email or phone number before clicking on any links you receive.


Step Seven: Turn Off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi When You Can

As we’ve previously noted, hackers can use free, public Wi-Fi networks to gain access to your phone — and, in turn, your most private and secure information. It’s important to use a VPN, to be sure, but not even a virtual private network can protect you from the threat of hackers over Bluetooth. To counter these attacks, it’s best to completely turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your phone whenever you’re not using them. This way, no hacker could possibly gain access. It’s like shutting and locking a virtual door.

3D rendering of a smartphone with Bluetooth controls
Turning off Bluetooth when you’re not using it is one more way to protect yourself from hackers.


Step Eight: Adjust Your Location Services Settings

Whenever you download a new app or install a new service on your smartphone, you’re usually prompted with a pop-up asking about your location services settings. While you might be tempted to simply allow the app access to your location, it’s not always necessary. You can opt to enable location services only when using the app, or you can choose to disable location services entirely for that app — either option is more secure than simply allowing unfettered access. You can also change your location services preferences through your smartphone’s settings to revoke access at any time.

Secure your smartphone
Turn off your location settings so apps you use cannot determine your location.


Step Nine: Message Through Secure Apps

Of all the threats we face online on a daily basis, you’d think that — of all places — you’d be safe to message friends and family as you please. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly the case. That’s right: You can even encounter malware in your messaging apps. For this reason, it’s important to message over secure, end-to-end encrypted apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal. Malware can grant hackers access to your entire messaging history, and nobody wants that. Even if you’ve never texted compromising information, it’s still a violation of your privacy. Secure messaging can protect you.

largest social media companies
Telegram is an end-to-end encrypted app you can use for messaging.


Step Ten: Back Up Your Data Frequently

Backups are one of those things that we let fall by the wayside far too often. Whether it be our smartphones, our computers, or our tablets, backups always seem like one of those things that we’ll take care of later… but never actually get around to doing. Regularly backing up your smartphone data can allow you to offload some of those important photos, files, and other information. That way, you can delete it from the phone without actually deleting it for good. Beyond this, you can also easily restore your information should your smartphone ever be stolen.

Secure your smartphone
Regularly back up your phone to store important data on the cloud or on your computer.


The following video from Facts Verse explains some of the ways hackers steal smartphone information and how you can protect your sensitive personal data.

How to Secure Your Smartphone from Hackers: A Step-By-Step Guide FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How do I protect my smartphone from malware?

To protect your smartphone from malware, you can do a number of easy actions. For one, you can install a reputable antivirus app. Additionally, it helps to keep your operating system and apps as up to date as possible. Beyond this, you should only download apps from trusted sources and avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments sent to your phone number or or email address.

Are public Wi-Fi networks unsafe?

Using public Wi-Fi on your smartphone will always come with a bit of risk. This is because the network’s lack of security makes it easier for  hackers to intercept your data. The best way to stay safe on public Wi-Fi is by using a virtual private network (VPN). Additionally, it helps to avoid accessing sensitive information such as banking or credit card details while using these networks.

How do I protect my information if my phone is stolen?

To protect your smartphone even after a theft, you should depend on strong passwords or passcodes on your device. Beyond this, you can enable two-factor authentication on your accounts for added security. It also helps to enable remote wiping, if possible. In this instance, your information will be cleared if your device is lost or stolen. You can also install a tracking app that can help you locate your phone if it’s stolen.

How do I get my phone back after it's stolen?

If your smartphone is lost or stolen, you should immediately contact your carrier and report the loss. You should also remotely wipe your device to protect your data and change your passwords for any accounts that were saved on your phone, if possible. If you have a tracking device or app on your phone, you should also turn this information over to the authorities.

What happens if you forget to clear your phone before selling it?

Before selling or disposing of your smartphone, you should make sure to erase all of your personal data with a factory reset. As an extra precaution, you should also make sure to remove any memory cards, SIM cards, or other storage devices that may contain additional personal information. If you’ve forgotten to do any of these steps, you can try and wipe the phone remotely via your online account or through another connected device.

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