IT Security | Phones and Tablets – Mobile Device Security 101

Smartphones and tablets are essentially mobile computers they allow you to access the Internet and email, download applications and games and store photos, videos and your personal information on them. Therefore it is important to realise that you need to protect and secure your phones & tablets just as you would your computer or laptop.

What should I do?

In order to protect your phone or tablet and the data stored on it you should have a look at the security features that are available on the device. All devices should have security settings though the exact options available will differ depending on manufacturer, model and software version.

Below is a guide to some of the general security settings that you should consider:

1) Set a Pin Code and automatic lock

Most smartphones and tablets have functionality to allow users to set a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN) on the phone that is then necessary to know in order to access the phone.  Similarly most devices can be configured to automatically lock if your phone has not been used for a set period of time 5mins etc.

Setting a PIN and an automatic lock are the simplest yet most effective security measures that you can utilise to minimise loss and disruption in the event that your phone or tablet is lost or stolen.

2) Take Care on Untrusted Networks

When connecting to the Internet using Wi-Fi on a mobile device always try to use an encrypted network that requires a password and which you are sure is operated by a reputable provider. Configure your settings so that that your device asks permission to join a new wireless network rather than joining automatically.

3) Keep Software Up-To-Date

Phone and tablet manufacturers regularly issue updates to the software on your phone, some of these updates may be fixing known security problems so you should make sure to regularly update the software on your devices.

4) Disable Bluetooth

Disable Bluetooth when it is not actively transmitting information and switch Bluetooth devices to hidden mode Bluetooth lets you wirelessly connect to devices and transfer information over short distances. It is best to leave your device in undiscoverable mode (hidden) so that it is only visible when you specifically need other people or devices to see it. This means that hackers cannot easily see your phone and attempt to connect to it

5) Use Encryption to Protect Confidential Data

Some phones or tablets allow you to encrypt your data, sometimes this functionality is built in and sometimes third-party software is available. It is always desirable to encrypt data on a mobile device as encryption secures your data if your device is lost or stolen.

Don’t forget College staff can also get their Laptops encrypted

6)  Investigate Remote Tracking Options & know what to do if your Device is Lost or Stolen

Utilise any remote tracking facility or remote data deletion option on the device if these are available. This type of service will give you piece of mind in the event that the device is lost/stolen

Make sure that you know how to report lost or stolen devices immediately. If you lose your device then it may be possible to remotely wipe personal data from it. For example, staff can make use of a feature through the staff Exchange email service to remotely wipe some devices. For more information please contact the IS Services Helpdesk.

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