Take steps to protect your smartphone

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - By now, you know you need to protect your computer from hackers, but what have you done to protect your smartphone? Experts are warning 2013 will be the year hackers hit up our smartphones with a vengeance.

Think about everything you do on your phone -- email, banking and shopping. Add in the value of the device itself and there's a lot in your little phone that is tempting to thieves.

Just this week, METRO announced a campaign called "Outta Sight" to encourage riders to keep their smartphones hidden because of an increase of robberies at bus stops.

The federal government is recognizing the problem too. The Federal Communications Commission has created a Smartphone Security Checker. On that website, just click on the type of operating system your phone uses to get a list of steps to make your phone more secure.

Some biggies: Make sure the home screen of your phone is password protected. If someone steals it, they can't use it. The FCC said you should configure your phone to automatically lock after 5 minutes if it's not in use.

Install security apps that allow you to locate and erase all of the data on your phone, even if the phone's GPS is off. You can find a list of anti-theft protection apps on The Wireless Association's website.

And lastly, those updates to your smartphone's software may seem annoying, but you need to allow them to keep your phone's security up-to-date.

It may seem like common sense, but if your phone is stolen, you should report it to the local police and then register the stolen phone with your wireless provider. Major providers, along with the FCC, have created a stolen phone database so that the phone won't be activated on any wireless network without your permission.

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