We depend on our mobile devices for almost everything these days. They tell us where to be and when. They keep us in touch with our contacts, and up to date on the latest news.

To do all this, our mobile devices hold a lot of information, including our personal and business email, contacts, schedule, private conversations, passwords and even credit cards. With all this information, our mobile devices also become a risk point if they become lost or stolen, or if they are disposed of improperly.

To help mitigate the risk these devices impose, here are a few steps you should take to protect your devices and the information they store for you:

  1. Set up a passcode. Setting a passcode on your device doesn’t just prevent someone from opening your device, it also encrypts all the data it stores, which prevents the data from being accessed when connecting the device to a computer without using the passcode.
    Pro-tip: Make sure your passcode is secure. If your passcode is numeric, use at least 6 numbers, and don’t use repeating numbers (1111), cascading numbers (12321) or information that could be readily known about you, like birthdays or anniversaries.
  2. Update your device. Mobile devices manufacturers regularly send out updates for their products, which fix known security vulnerabilities and provide usability enhancements. Make sure you install updates as soon as they become available to improve the security of your device.
  3. Restart your device. If you use an automatic login method like a fingerprint or face reader, by turning the device off and back on, your passcode will be required to unlock the device before your fingerprint or face reader will work. This can help prevent forced access, since your fingerprint or face will not unlock the device after a restart.
  4. Wipe it. Before you dispose of a mobile device or trade it in, make sure you delete all the data from the device so that no one can access it. All device makers have a “reset to factory settings” option that will allow you to securely delete your device’s data.

Mobile devices aren’t just a risk, they can also help us protect our private information.

Most websites will allow you to use two-factor authentication to verify that you are the person who is trying to log in. Even if your password gets stolen, your account can’t be accessed without your second factor.

Your mobile device can be your second factor by using text messages to deliver a one-time access code to you or using a mobile authenticator app that automatically generates codes for you.

Keeping your mobile device secure will help you protect the personal information your device knows about you from falling into the wrong hands.