Are you aware of the dangers of sharing your internet mobile connection?

Most smartphones have a built-in function that allows you to share the mobile internet connection with other people nearby. Acting very much like a traditional WiFi hotspot, mobile internet connection sharing turns your phone into a hub – authorised devices can then connect to your phone and share the data connection.

This “mobile hotspot” feature is particularly useful when your friends cannot get a reliable connection to their mobile network. Or when you need to get online with your laptop really quickly while “out and about”.

But just as you (should) secure your home network to prevent abuse and deter hackers, you need to take a few extra steps to keep yourself safe. If someone does manage to hack your mobile hotspot they may be able to steal the data stored on your phone – or run up a large phone bill simply by using up your data allowance.

Here are our top tips for boosting your security.

1. Use a ‘secure’ passphrase

When someone tries to connect to your mobile hotspot, they will be prompted to enter a password – which is exactly the same procedure as connecting to any other secure WiFi network. This password needs to be “complex” to prevent hackers from guessing it.

Android and iOS both generate long, complicated passwords by default, but it is worth checking your own settings to confirm. You must resist the urge to replace the password with something simple though – if you make it too easy for your friends to get connected, you also make it easier for hackers to jump online.

The Apple iPhone mobile hotspot requires a password at least eight characters long, but you should consider choosing something even longer that uses a combination of upper and lower case letters, mixed with numbers and punctuation marks (like ! Or ?) to deter dictionary attacks from “guessing” the password. The same password tip applies to smartphones running Android.

2. Disable by default

You can toggle the mobile hotspot function on and off – so it’s only available when you actually need it. You should always ensure the hotspot is toggled off when not in use to reduce the risk of unauthorised connections.

A few extra taps on the screen to enable the hotspot may be annoying – but nowhere near as frustrating as an unexpectedly high phone bill run up by people abusing your mobile data connection.

3. Keep an eye on your screen

Both Android and iOS provide helpful on-screen indicators to show when your mobile hotspot is switched on, and how many devices are currently connected. You should keep an eye on that indicator – it will help you spot when someone is connecting without your permission.

If you do detect an unauthorised connection, turn the hotspot off, and change the password immediately. This will help to prevent your connection being hijacked again.

Using these three tips, you can greatly reduce the risk of becoming another mobile fraud victim. For more help securing your mobile device, download a free trial of Panda Mobile Security.