Worst things you're doing with your smartphone

I have never faced a problem like this until I got an iPhone (coming from a dumbphone which lasted 9 days per charge for one thing ... *sigh*). The problem I'm talking about here is the effort required to ensure the safety and security of information on the phone. If you own any smartphone - be it an iOS, Android or other device - these are the things you should NOT be doing (with focus on iOS and Android). There are probably many more things that can be done, but these are top on my list of things:

Leaving your phone unlocked
Its a hassle to keep unlocking phones especially if you're the kind that keeps checking your facebook and twitter feeds every 2 minutes but this is your first line of defense if, heaven forbid, you lose your phone or it gets stolen. Androids typically have that pattern unlock screen whilst iOS has the PIN instead. Using the iPhone 5s, I am grateful for the TouchID fingerprint system because it represents the best of both worlds by providing simplicity of a single touch with the complexity of the PIN without having to lift my finger. The latest Samsung S5s also have the fingerprint scanner on the home button but it is not used for locking the phone and instead is only meant to app use (like verifying PayPal accounts) so that point is moot.

iOS devices have a deadmans option whereby if you enter a passcode or TouchID too many times it locks the device permanently. Additionally, you can opt to wipe the device if attempts to crack the device exceeds 10 times. Similar options exist on Android but they are crackable (or at least manufacturer/provider resettable).

Not backing up information
Smartphones are now multi-use devices and perform additional functions of a camera, music player, map, etc. Losing a phone usually results in a lost of a LOT of information that possibly is not replaceable (i.e photos and videos). Use your phone's backup function if available and save your heartache should anything bad happen. iOS has iCloud whilst Androids have Google drive - both free options which you should be exploiting to save your data ICE.

All major platforms are also now supported by Microsoft's OneDrive which will offer automatic uploads through the individual mobile platform apps. I personally use iCloud backups for phone settings and app data whilst OneDrive for iOS handles all my photo backups to my cloud (this because I have multiple legacy OneDrive accounts with 28GB of lifetime storage)

Setting up the GPS
Did a simple test - took a friend's smartphone, searched around and launched the map application. Nearly every single time, the map/GPS application had its 'home' setting to the phone owners actual home address. Now imagine if your phone is NOT passworded/passcode locked and someone manages to get hold of it, launching the app will tell them exactly where you live and gives them an easy target for their next heist (especially if you lost your bag with your phone, wallet, house keys etc). Get the picture?

Set the 'home' location to any app you are using (Google maps, Garmin, Waze etc) to a nearby location that you know of. I mean, do you really need that GPS to tell you turn by turn directions to your house from the nearest shopping mall that you visit weekly? Else, set it to a public location like a school, mosque, temple, 7-11 etc.

Address book/Contact list problems
Yes contact lists are convenient and make you lazy at forgetting numbers but here's a tip which has relevance with the first tip above. In the same test I mentioned earlier, the contact list ALWAYS had a listing for HOME, MAMA or PAPA or something along the lines like that. Now you've all heard or read emails about horror stories that someone's parents received a phone call telling them that their son/daughter has been kidnapped and demands a ransom ... where'd they get the number? Why from your unlocked phone inside your phone's contact list of course!! How nice of you to provide these nasty people with information like this.
If you REALLY need to list your parent or sibling's phone numbers (or any close relative) its best to list a nick name that only you know and understand. Be creative and have fun - but be prepared to answer your mother if you listed her in your phone book as 'Constant nagger'

Taking photos
Photos are fun. Photos are useful to capture a moment in time. Selfies are also fun. Nude selfies are NOT. A smartphone in the hands of another user other than yourself may result in your embarassing photos being leaked out. All devices (unfortunately) allow the photo directory content to be viewed in any computer without even having to unlock the device.

If you want to take nudes or unmentionables at least use a encryption app - there are dozens out there you can choose from that can give you a level of privacy which your default phone camera app cannot.

Leaving apps logged in
I suffer from this habit too as I tend to leave most apps logged in - but at least I lock my phone and set it to wipe if its being hacked into. Many popular apps keep you logged in even when you shutdown the app (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flipboard) and anyone with access to your phone will basically have access to those app accounts too. Worst case scenario is with banking apps. I wich app developers would incorporate additional protection features to prevent this. The only one I know of is Evernote which has an additional PIN entry aside from the normal login to prevent anyone from viewing content so you can remain logged in. For other apps, its best to log out especially if you don't lock your phone.

Not installing an antivirus and app manager
This is for Android/Windows Phone devices only. Due to the open nature of the platform and also based on a phone owner's actions, an antivirus may be necessary. If you use an Android and often sideload your apps downloaded through fileshare/rapidshare/forums/etc, you should have an antivirus app installed to reduce the likelihood that your device will be infected with malware. Windows phone devices may run on a separate build as opposed to their desktop operating systems so the jury is out on whether it is needed or not.

For androids - even with the latest releases - app management is still horrendous.  You need a management app to help corral apps from misbehaving and making your device run out of resources. Always uninstall apps you never/hardly use because those apps WILL slow down the device even if they are not running (don't ask me how or why, I still can't figure that out yet)

Allowing apps to access facebook/twitter/etc
Once again, laziness makes people prefer use a single sign-in method to use an app. Many apps do allow you to link your facebook/google/microsoft account as a sign-in method and in return, the app is given permission to post on your behalf to your facebook/mail/google plus/etc page. Some apps like endomondo sports tracker and nike run can post on your behalf so you can show off to your facebook friends how far you have run and how long it took.

Unfortunately, this also reveals information similar to the GPS tip above. Using several posts, a stalker can pin point the exact location where you live because your start and end locations are always the same. Next, the app tells them when you are not home or when you ARE home. Personally, I wouldn't want an unknown person to know that. The right picture shows a screenshot of someone (I randomly selected a facebook user) who allowed EST to post on their page .... now I know where he lives and when he's not home.

Busy busy busy

Missed several week's posts because of the Chinese New Year + end of semester exam preparations + personal exams. Oh, and my PC decided to die on me in the most unceremonious way - it still works but all PCI-e slots are not working ... took me so long to figure that out. Luckily it fell back to its internal on-board GPU so at least it is currently still in a usable state with legacy unaccelerated graphics (on board only has a 7100nvidia GPU). Local service and support won't sell me the board on its own unless I bring it in and purchase with service fees so I have to look for alternatives. Seeing as it is a rather 'old' PC (CPU socket wise) its difficult to get good LGA775 motherboards anymore. Additionally, I realised further problems with buying a so-called branded PC ... the feature set found on this PC cannot be replicated on any commercial boards available for public purchase. Yeah, somehow Acer has designed this board with so many additional I/O options that if I buy an off-the-shelf motherboard, more that half of the PC's connectors won't work because they have nowhere to plugin into!

On its own, the mobo (which is an OEM MCP73) has 4 USB 2.0 + 1 IEE1394 ports on board. Then it has four (yup, 4) on board USB connectors to support the additional 4 USB ports on the casing top AND the card reader AND another USB port in front. Most boards only have 2 additional USB connectors. Additionally, the original board also has 1 additional IEEE1394 connector to the front firewire800 port. Looks like I have to scour ebay for refurbished boards else go without the ports. *sigh*

Other things that kept me busy was my new phone .... that will be for the next post.