Experts: Strong passwords prevent smartphone hacks - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Experts: Strong passwords prevent smartphone hacks

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

When you lock your phone, you think it's secure, but that may not be the case. Hackers are sending phishing emails, and if you respond to them, they can steal your passwords.

"Once they have that, they can actually infiltrate your phone, and once they're in, they have all your personal information," Steve Crozier said.

Crozier is a cyber security expert, and the owner of SmartTech Iowa in Cedar Falls. He said once the hackers are into your device, they can lock you out, and demand a ransom. Several cases have been reported worldwide, with phones displaying a message from hackers asking for money.

"Hackers really only hack for two reasons," Crozier said. "They hack for notoriety or for money, so from a hacker's point of view, it really only makes sense."

But Crozier said the scariest thing is what else could find in your phone. He said beside personal information, once a hacker is in, they would have access to the "Find My iPhone" app, which gives them a real-time look at your position.

"Find you within six feet, that's a scary thought," Crozier said.

So what can you do to keep others out of your phone?

"It comes to the basics," Crozier said. "Don't open up suspicious emails, don't ever give away personal information online, including your password. And, make sure that your passwords are stout enough to withstand some sort of attack.

Crozier said 12 characters in a password, minimum. Otherwise --

"Once they have your personal information, now you're playing catchup," he said. "It's a lot easier to play defense than offense."

Crozier said if you're concerned, stop by his Cedar Falls office, and he'll help form strong passwords for free.

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