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As cell phones have become increasingly sophisticated, they have become more central to most of our lives. Many of us would be lost without our phones, as we store important dates, phone numbers, credit card numbers, and emails on them. But this convenience presents a problem – a modestly skilled hacker can gain access to your private information using relatively simple techniques.

When The News of the World shut its doors this weekend, it was in the aftermath of an invasion-of-privacy scandal involving employees hacking into the voicemail of a missing girl. Many cell phone users neglect to take a few easy steps that could make their information considerably safer:

  • Immediately change your password from the default. Lengthy combinations of letters and numbers are best, and do not use obvious choices like birth dates, names, or repeated or sequential numbers (i.e. 1111 or 1234).
  • Keep your phone locked and with you at all times. The easiest way to get information off a phone is to take it off the device itself. If you lose your phone or suspect that the security has been compromised, contact your wireless service provider immediately.
  • Disable wireless connections unless you are currently using them. Keeping your Bluetooth connection open is an invitation for unwanted intrusion.
  • Limit the amount of sensitive information on your cell phone. Consider deleting private emails, text messages, and voicemails after you access them.

Following these simple tips should help protect you from the majority of attacks. Unless you are a specific target, most hackers will move on to another, less conscientious potential victim if they encounter resistance.

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