American Intelligence Agency Recommends Restarting Your Phone "At Least Once a Week"

American Intelligence Agency Recommends Restarting Your Phone "At Least Once a Week"

Can you remember the last time you turned off your phone? No? For security reasons, this is how often experts recommend you should shut it down.

Turning your phone off, waiting, and turning it back on usually takes around a minute on a smartphone. Whilst slightly inconvenient, taking the time to do this simple action can help prevent you from becoming a victim of cybercrime

There is one main reason for this: frequently restarting the device can stop criminals from exploiting any programming vulnerabilities. This advice comes from a best-practices paper that was published by the NSA (National Security Agency).

The recommendation is to turn the device off and on once a week. This can help in many cases to prevent the installation of malware via spearphishing and so-called zero-click exploits.

Android smartphones have a restart button that usually appears after simultaneously pressing the power button and the volume-up button. In contrast, iPhones need to be turned off, waited on briefly, and then turned back on; the slider for this appears after simultaneously pressing the lock button and the volume-up button.

Additional Tips: Install Updates Immediately 

The NSA paper lists several other practical tips for improving the security of smartphones and tablets:

  • Install updates as quickly as possible. They will give security updates and will also typically include a restart.
  • Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not needed.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Use a strong passcode. Six-digit PIN codes are sufficient if the device erases itself after ten unsuccessful attempts.
  • Do not click on unexpected pop-up windows that prompt you to install programs. If this happens, all active programs should be closed. To do this, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and close all active windows. On iPhones and Androids with a home button, this can be done by double-tapping the button.

And then there are some advanced tips, which are more aimed at people who handle sensitive information and less at regular smartphone users:

  • Do not have confidential conversations near a mobile device that is not configured for such discussions.
  • Consider using a device cover that shields the microphone. This prevents so-called hot-miking attacks, where the microphone is activated without your knowledge.
  • Cover the camera when not in use.