Published: May 30, 2021 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.
Nearly all of us these days have some type of mobile device that is essentially a part of us. It is filled with all kinds of personal information, such as our contacts, our email conversations, and perhaps even our health information. Losing it, having it accessed without permission, or finding out it’s infested with malware can be a really scary moment. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to protect those devices and the information on them.
Keep Your Eye On Them - Of course, don’t let them out of your sight when it public places. If you are in a café, for example, and need to step away for a bit, use a locking tether and attach it to something so someone walking by cannot quickly grab it. However, it really is better to just take it with you, no matter how inconvenient that may be. And make sure all your devices are set to auto-lock after a certain amount of time without use. The lowest amount of time available is recommended.
Don’t Modify Them After Purchase - It’s tempting to “jailbreak” your devices to download apps that are not in the official app stores. But really, just don’t. That puts you at more risk. While there is no guarantee that malicious apps are not in those stores, the likelihood is significantly lower. So, stick to doing some research on the apps you want, read the reviews, and only use the official stores to get those products and you will have a lower chance of getting something nasty that steals your banking login credentials, puts ransomware on the device, or just renders it useless.
Protect With Passwords Or PINs - Always make sure your mobile devices are password or PIN protected. Ok, so biometrics including face recognition are becoming more common and can certainly be quicker and easier than putting in a passcode, but you should have that code enabled too. Research from the Pew Research Center showed that over 30% of those asked didn’t bother to set up a passcode on their smartphones. This just leaves those devices more vulnerable to being stolen and having the data wiped so the devices can be sold. In addition, it can be somewhat easy for a “Nosey Nellie” to intrude, should it be desired.
Stick To Secured Connections - Avoid using public Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, even if they are password protected. For someone “in the know,” it’s not difficult to intercept communication over public Wi-Fi networks. If you must do financial transactions, look at healthcare data, or perform other transactions that may involve sensitive data, use the cellular data connection on the device. It’s safer to just wait until you get to a location such as work or home to perform those tasks.
While you’re at it, shut off the Bluetooth if you don’t need it. Many of us probably don’t need to have it enabled all the time.
Secure It With Software - Most people are on top if it when it comes to installing security software on computers. However, they tend to get a little lax about mobile devices. These need to have this software too. Just make sure you do your due diligence to ensure its legitimate and the right choice for your device. And of course, stick to downloading it from the official app store.
Update - As always, keep your mobile devices updated with the latest patches and software updates. It’s easy to ignore the little red indicator, but there is a reason the developers release patches for security vulnerabilities. So make sure to get them applied as soon as possible after they are released. Keep in mind that when they are released is dependent upon the manufacturers of the devices, the operating systems, and often the cellular providers. Sometimes they may be released for the same operating system at different times depending on those providers. Just note the indicator and apply them when they do arrive.
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