23 August, 2018

Security on the Go!

Cassie Faircloth
Author: Cassie Faircloth

The use of mobile devices is steadily growing.  With this increase comes the need for the users to learn how to safely operate their devices.  Just like with computers, mobile devices can come under attack as well.

Let’s go through a few basics of mobile device security and what people should be on the lookout for.

One of the easiest things that can be done to help secure mobile devices as a whole is to set a passcode.  If the phone is ever stolen or lost, this is the first line of defense in keeping any information on it private.  Much like with regular passwords, a passcode shouldn’t be made something that is easily guessable, like a birthday, an anniversary, or your street address.  In some cases, biometrics (like a fingerprint) can be used to keep mobile devices even more secure (and more convenient). Setting a passcode also enables encryption on the device.  This adds even more protection to your information.

The next thing that can be done is to keep the mobile device’s operating system up to date.  This may seem like it’s silly but often times these updates are released to fix potential threats. Companies are always finding weaknesses in their systems and work to improve them.  By keeping the device up to date, it makes another barrier between the users and those who are looking to steal information.

Most people have been in a store with bad reception but they still really want, or need, to be on their phone for something.  They might think “Oh look; the store has Open WiFi access!” Be careful of this, it could be an insecure or fake network that someone is using to get access to your data on your device.  Some networks have you make an account or enter an already existing login to gain access to their WiFi. But these systems could be used by malicious people to get information such as e-mail addresses and passwords which they then can use to try and get access to more data.  Most people tend towards using the same login everywhere because it makes it easier to remember, but this is something you should avoid. For more information about this, refer to a past Secure Ideas blog here; Defending the Wall: Strong Passwords

Apps downloaded on mobile devices can be compromised as well.  The best way to combat this is to read the terms and carefully scrutinize what the app is asking access to.  When in doubt, the user should research the product or any terms they are unfamiliar with. Most people will readily agree to the terms because they’re excited to use the new app they just downloaded but this is a dangerous process we should work to combat.  Malware can be embedded in these apps and can be used to steal the info users save on their phone, such as; credit card information, bank data, contacts, and other login credentials. To go with this, users should be very careful of clicking advertising within these apps as these could also be a gateway into stealing your information.

A good rule of thumb may be to avoid keeping personal or company information on mobile devices to begin with. While some companies may actually require the use of email and programs that have access to sensitive information, a good alternative is Mobile Device Management (MDM).

Some companies are very strict on what kind of company data users can have on their phone, and rightfully so; they don’t want their information to fall into the wrong hands.  Mobile Device Management is something they may have in place in order to remotely wipe their data from a user’s device in case it is lost, stolen, or they believe it to be otherwise compromised.  This might make people uncomfortable but it shouldn’t, it’s merely a safeguard for the company since a personal device is being used for company purposes.

The world may seem like a scary place as far as safety is concerned, but with a few simple tweaks, users can help protect themselves and keep their data secure.

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