Why the NSA Is Right About Restarting Your Smartphone Weekly


Yep, the Galaxy S24 Ultra.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Oh, the irony of the National Security Agency suggests that smartphone users turn off their phones occasionally. But the NSA is right: you do need to restart your phone regularly to rid it of demons. Some phones even let you schedule the restart, so you don’t have to think about it.

Forbes uncovered a seriously dated NSA document outlining the best practices for keeping your phone safe from bad actors in the digital space. The phones depicted are a 2010s-era iPhone with the original push-button Home button and a Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Over a dozen tips are included, ranging from “considering using Biometrics” to “only use original charging cords.” It’s all fundamental stuff you’ve seen before, but the advice that’s got everyone’s ears perked up is the NSA’s suggestion to power your device off and back on weekly. It isn’t a failsafe but could help reduce zero-click exploits and malware via spearphishing.

For those of you who are only hearing this for the first time, you can rest easy knowing that this is already a common practice among smartphone wielders.

It’s a simple way to either force a waning software update or clear any background apps and memory leaks that might contribute to a too-hot-too-handle metal phone. I’m a frequent restarter because I have cell signal issues in my area—a quick reboot usually does the trick, though not without my heart beating rapidly as I wait to see those mobile service bars return.

A hefty number of manufacturers have already built in the functionality to restart your phone periodically. This includes Samsung’s Galaxy devices and the latest OnePlus devices. The Google Pixel doesn’t have a scheduled offering, but there is an option you can toggle on to have the device automatically restart once it receives an over-the-air (OTA) software update. iOS users can craft an Automation that will restart the iPhone every few days.



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