11 Jul 2023

Phone Security for Writers: 8 Crucial Tips to Protect Your Work

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You know that sinking feeling … when you realize your phone is missing!

Phone Security for Writers Phone hackedThat’s happened to a friend of mine. She panicked. Her life revolved around her phone. She posted pictures to Instagram, texted her friends all day long, and made videos for TikTok. More importantly, her phone stored her personal (very personal) photos, and she used apps to maintain her life including her bank account, credit cards, utilities, and everything else you can imagine.

Worst of all, she tired of endlessly entering a PIN and never bothered to set up biometrics, so her phone, and her life, was wide open to anyone.

What happened? Some malicious individual drained her bank account and credits cards, dropped her very personal photos on some explicit web sites, and deleted her social media and TikTok. Just like that, her life changed for the worse.

The incident served as a reality check for writers like us who consider their phones as more than communication devices. These gadgets store our brainchild ideas, outlines, drafts, and finished work. In essence, they carry a part of our creative entity. It’s no surprise then that phone security is a must for safeguarding our intellectual property. This article explores how writers can reinforce their phone security.

What She Did Wrong

She didn’t practice basic phone and internet security best practices.

  • She didn’t protect her phone with a PIN or biometrics.
  • Her apps used simple-to-crack passwords.
  • She set her phone as the source for her 2-factor authentication, when she used it at all.
  • Every online account had easy-to-guess passwords.
  • She didn’t back up the data in her phone and her social media accounts.

The list of the ways she left herself open to attack goes on.

Why Phone Security is Non-Negotiable for Writers

Phone security is vital for any phone user, but it becomes a crucial concern for writers. Our phones are like digital fortresses that house our creative worlds. Any breach in phone security is akin to a plunderer pillaging these realms. If our stories, especially the unpublished ones, were to fall into the wrong hands, it could lead to unauthorized use or even destruction of our hard-earned work.

But this is not just about protecting our intellectual output. Many of us writers, especially freelance and ghostwriting professionals, have client information and sensitive data stored on our phones. Breaching phone security here could lead to a breach of trust, which could mar our professional reputation.

The essence of phone security, therefore, goes beyond mere technicality. It becomes a matter of professional integrity and a commitment to protect our work and our clients. This perspective on phone security turns it into a writer’s concern. Now that we’ve established the why let’s look into the how of phone security.

The Golden Rules of Phone Security for Writers 📜

When it comes to security, there are a few golden rules every writer must follow:

  1. Lock It Up: Use a PIN, passcode, or biometric lock (like fingerprint or facial recognition). A robust locking mechanism is your first line of defense against unauthorized access.
  2. Update Regularly: Keep your phone’s operating system and all writing apps up to date. Updates often include security enhancements that shield against new threats.
  3. Backup, Backup, Backup: Your phone carries your drafts, ideas, and completed works. Regularly back up this data to avoid catastrophic loss.
  4. Think Before You App: Download apps only from trusted sources. Illegitimate apps can harbor malware that compromises your phone’s security.
  5. Phishing is Not Your Friend: Be wary of unsolicited texts or emails asking for personal information or urging you to click on a link. They could be phishing attempts designed to steal your data.
  6. Be Wi-Fi Wise: Public Wi-Fi networks can be insecure, making it easy for hackers to intercept your data. Use them sparingly and consider employing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for safer browsing.

As we delve deeper, we’ll explore these rules in more detail and equip you with practical tips to fortify your phone security.

Phone Security: The First Line of Defense – Biometrics and PINs

Biometrics and PINs play a pivotal role in security. They form the initial barrier that keeps intruders at bay. In essence, they are the guards protecting the creative goldmine that our phones house. Phone security starts with this simple step of activating a unique PIN or setting up biometric authentication.

Having a unique and robust PIN is vital for phone security. The idea of having a secure lock is moot if the key is readily available or easy to decipher. It’s crucial to ensure that the PIN or the biometrics set for phone security are strong and exclusive to you.

The beauty of these phone security measures is that they can be quickly activated and used. Whether it’s an Android phone or an iPhone, the settings offer user-friendly interfaces to set up biometrics and PINs. Ensuring this first level of phone security can offer significant protection for your creative work.

App Security – The Hidden Dimension of Phone Security

Phone security doesn’t end with setting up PINs and biometrics. The various apps on our phones, which we use daily, must also be secured. Each app – be it a notetaking one that captures fleeting thoughts, a project management app for ghostwriting assignments, or a cloud storage app that houses our manuscripts – is a potential breach point for phone security.

Passwords play a critical role in app security, and by extension, phone security. Every app should have a robust, unique password. An easy-to-crack password can make the fortress of phone security vulnerable. So, consider using a password manager to keep track of your passwords without compromising phone security.

It’s also crucial to keep the apps updated. These updates often come with security patches and enhancements that guard against the latest threats. This simple habit can contribute significantly to maintaining phone security.

Defend Your Data – The Art of Backing Up 💽

Imagine the horror of losing your latest masterpiece to a phone mishap. An unfortunate incident like a lost or stolen phone could wipe out your drafts, manuscripts, and notes. This potential loss underscores the importance of backing up your data as a critical phone security measure.

Leverage cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud for regular backups. Alternately, you could also use external storage devices. Backing up ensures that even in the face of a phone security breach, your work remains safe, ready to be restored.

Phone Security: Beyond Locks and Keys – The Role of App Security

While biometrics and PINs form the physical barrier of your phone security, the real challenge lies in securing the myriad apps on your phone. Every app, whether it’s your go-to note-taking app or a project management tool, poses potential vulnerability for phone security.

Password protection for each app adds another layer of defense to your phone security. Unique and robust passwords can be tricky to remember, but password managers can come to your rescue without compromising phone security. Regular updates to these apps also bolster phone security by patching potential vulnerabilities.

Be Phishing Aware: The Dark Art of Social Engineering 🎣

Phishing scams, one of the most nefarious threats to phone security, cleverly exploit the power of words to trick you into revealing sensitive information. Crafty emails or texts posing as urgent requests or lucrative opportunities can lead you to a harmful website or trick you into sharing information.

Vigilance is your ally against such phone security threats. Be suspicious of any communication asking for personal information, and verify the sender’s authenticity before responding.

Harness the Power of 2-factor Authentication 🔑

Remember those old adventure movies where the hero had to pass multiple challenges to reach the treasure? That’s how 2-factor authentication (2FA) works. It’s an extra layer of security to ensure that even if someone cracks your password, they’ll still have to deal with another hurdle to access your account.

Platforms like Gmail, Facebook, and even WordPress offer 2FA. It’s an easy step, but it dramatically improves your online security. For those dealing with sensitive client information, like ghostwriters, it’s a no-brainer.

Juice Jacking: Power Up but Stay Safe! ⚡

Public charging stations may seem like a godsend when your phone’s battery is running low. But they pose a serious phone security threat called ‘Juice Jacking’ – cybercriminals using public USB ports to inject malware or steal data from your phone.

To maintain good security, prefer using your charger or a portable power bank. In situations where you must use a public charging station, consider investing in a ‘USB data blocker’ or ‘USB condom.’ These devices allow electricity to flow for charging but block data transfer, keeping your phone secure.

Phone Security Checklist – Your Weapon Against Data Theft

Finally, it’s worth noting down a handy security checklist. This checklist can serve as a guide and a reminder to stay ahead in the game of phone security.

  1. Set your phone to unlock with a PIN or passcode.
  2. Lock your home screen when you are not using your phone.
  3. Alternately, use biometrics such as you fingerprint, retina, or face.
  4. Keep your phone software, including the operating system (usually Android or iOS) regularly.
  5. Ensure you install any security updates.
  6. Keep your data backed up.
  7. Go to settings and turn on the app to help you locate your phone. Sometimes these apps allow you to wipe your phone clean of data on command.
  8. Download apps only from trusted sources.
  9. Don’t fall victim to phishing attempts from text and email messages.
  10. Log out of sites after making any payments or any other activity.
  11. Look into purchasing mobile protection to get a replacement device if your phone is lost, stolen, or damaged.
  12. Don’t leave the phone anywhere out of sight. It’s too easy for someone to quickly snatch it up if you look away for a moment.
  13. Install an app such as Robokiller or Firewall to help you screen you calls and reduce or eliminate spam calls.
  14. Don’t use public ports (including public power strips) to charge your phone. Remember, the charging cable is also a data cable, so hackers can actually use it to hack into your phone. This is known as “Juice Jacking”.
  15. Define all your online accounts with 2-factor authentication if it is available.
  16. Turn off your Bluetooth when you are not using it since Bluetooth can be used to attack your phone.
  17. Don’t jailbreak or root your device.
  18. Don’t use public hotspots, or, if you must, ensure you use a VPN.
  19. Use a password vault such as Sticky Password or 1password to store your passwords and usernames.

Ghostwriting and the Specter of Phone Security 👻

For ghostwriters, security takes on an additional layer of significance. As a ghostwriter, you’re not just dealing with your own work, but the work and sensitive details of your clients.

Ghostwriters often interview their clients over the phone, making notes and recordings that could be disastrous if leaked or lost. Manuscripts in progress, emails with revealing client communication, non-disclosure agreements – all these reside on your phone and are potential gold mines for cybercriminals.

Don’t let the ‘ghost’ in ghostwriting turn into a haunting experience. Ensure your clients’ trust isn’t misplaced by securing your phone with the vigilance it deserves.

Conclusion: Embrace Phone Security for Peace of Mind

A phone is not just a device. For writers, it’s a mobile office, a repository of ideas, and a tool for communication. Given the stakes involved, phone security should never be an afterthought. It should be a priority. Every measure you adopt, from setting up PINs and biometrics to securing individual apps, is a step towards enhanced phone security. Secure your creative and professional world by taking phone security seriously.

Richard Lowe
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Doug

Hi Richard,
Do you have any thought on the use of Authentication apps in place of 2FA?

Alice Gerard

Interesting, and very helpful. I’m a writer but I prefer the computer over my phone for storing information. But I can see how the phone would be vulnerable to attack.

Royce

Such important reminders, Richard! Especially these days!
Thanks for the tips!

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