10 tips for keeping your devices secure

10 tips for keeping your devices secure

Most of us have a tablet, smartphone, or both for personal and/or professional use. But did you know that when you access your work email on your smartphone while on a business trip or read a report on your tablet while enjoying a latte at your favorite coffee shop, all of the data on your devices may be at risk of being hacked?

It’s unfortunate but true: devices are far less secure than personal computers. Moreover, they’re also often used on unsecured networks, possibly leaving proprietary personal and business information vulnerable to hackers and other criminals. That’s why it’s imperative that you know how to keep the information on your smartphone or tablet safe from unauthorized users. Read on for some practical tips on how to keep your devices secure.

1) Install security software. Just like you install security software on your personal computer, it’s advisable to install a security program on your devices, too. TopTenReviews, which provides a list of the best-rated software for mobiles and tablet, is a good place to start.

2) Be prepared for physical loss. Losing a device or falling victim to theft is still one of the most common threats to your data. Whether your device is lost or stolen, you simply can’t count on ever getting it back. And though most thieves are only interested in reselling the hardware, there’s always a chance that somebody accesses your data and uses it for his or her own purposes. To minimise the chances of this happening, use a remote wipe program that enables you to remotely erase all of the data on your device from any computer that’s connected to the Internet. Google, Android and Apple all offer remote locate and erase options for devices.

3) Restrict access to your device. ConsumerReports.org advices restricting access to your phone by locking it with a strong password that consists of a combination of at least 8 letters, special characters, and numbers. Steer away from words, dates, and phrases that are easily recognizable, and choose a password that’s not easy to guess.

4) Encrypt your device. Encrypting your device adds an extra layer of protection, since it makes your information harder to interpret for anybody trying to access your phone. You can activate encryption in the settings of your device; just remember that you’ll need a PIN or password to decrypt it every time you start it up.

5) Backup your information. Each device offers an option to backup your information either to a Google server or to iCloud, depending on your device. Simply go to settings and follow the prompts. By backing up your data, you’ll always be able to retrieve it, even if your phone is lost, stolen, or broken.

6) Only use secure networks. Some public spaces have unencrypted public networks that don’t require a password to log on. These types of networks provide criminals with easy opportunities to access your data. Avoid using unsecured networks and only log on to WEP, WPA, or VPN networks, which offer better protection.

7) Don’t store passwords on your device. Passwords to important sites such as your email host, bank and employer network should never be stored on your device, so disable the “remember passwords” option. However, since it can be difficult to remember all of your different passwords, you can use a password manager app that securely stores your passwords while protecting them from security breaches.

8) Never store sensitive information on your device. Your social security number, bank account number, and other information should never be stored on your device, as they can be used by criminals looking to steal your identity.At the same time, it’s advisable to refrain from storing proprietary business information such as downloaded reports and papers on your device.

9) Disable Bluetooth protocol for pairing devices. According to Robert McGarvey in his Travel and Leisure article “How to Keep Your Mobile Devices Secure,” disabling this feature makes it impossible for criminals to “listen in” to your device via Bluetooth.

10) Be careful when downloading apps. McAfee Security Advice Center warns that apps can be used to access your personal and proprietary information. Make sure that the apps you select are reputable and come from a trusted source like the Android or iTunes store.

Keeping your devices safe is primarily about preparation and constant vigilance. Use the above tips to adjust your device’s settings, and always exercise your best judgment before using unsecure networks or apps.