Many students and staff have at least one mobile device which they use during a normal college day. This could be an Android or iOS phone, tablet, chromebook or a conventional laptop. Its easy to forget that these devices all hold personal data about you.
It’s important to secure your mobile device so that your digital life is well-protected. A few simple steps will help ensure you don’t lose data, allow attackers to control your e-mail, or inadvertently provide access to personal information.
Set a password or PIN
Setting a password or PIN on your device is an excellent way to prevent someone else from using it or accessing the information you’ve stored on it. Pick a password that’s hard to guess (don’t use something simple such as aaa or 12345) but easy to type on your device’s keyboard or screen. Consider a password with at least six characters.
Enable the screen’s auto-lock function
Most devices can be set to require a password that disables operation if they are inactive for a while. For example, once your device has been idle 10 minutes, you must enter a password before you can use it again. This prevents someone from picking it up and using it without your knowledge.
Encrypt the contents
Protect your data from being stolen and viewed by attackers by encrypting the contents of your handheld. Encryption prevents someone from reading the contents of files, even if they find a way to download them without your knowledge.
Delete unnecessary information
You can minimize your risk of losing important data by deleting information you no longer need on your handheld. This would include e-mail attachments, downloads from websites, files you transported between computers via your handheld and data cached by Apps installed on your device. By only having the least amount of data on your device, you will have less personal or important information to worry about should you lose your handheld.
Only download applications you trust
Be very careful what programs you download to your device. Only use applications from trusted vendors, and be skeptical of free programs from the Internet. Some free programs can harm your device, steal your data, or even infect your desktop computer when you connect via USB.
Review app permissions regularly
Apps sometimes require more than the basic default permissions. Make sure the installed apps only have access to features they need. Review which permissions they’re allowed to use as subsequent updates and bugs might have caused them to leak user data. iOS users can configure that under Settings > Privacy. Android 8.0 users can check which apps have which permissions by going to Settings > Apps & notifications > App permissions. You can also grant permissions to apps while the app is running, which gives more control over the app’s functionality. If an app displays a message saying it needs a certain permission, you can decide at that time if it’s necessary.
Keep your software up to date
You should check for updates regularly. Your device may have a software update application, or you may need to download the software to your computer and install it via USB connection. By installing the latest software, you not only get the newest applications for your device, you also get the latest security updates to better protect your information. Most devices will notify you automatically when updates are available.
Be careful where you connect
Almost all mobile devices utilise WiFi connections to send and receive data. Be careful of unsecured wireless access points and public WiFi hotspots. Treat your handheld just as you would a laptop. If you are using a public WiFi or unsecured wireless network, your wireless signals can be intercepted and inspected.
Manage what is shared online
Make sure to use privacy settings on social media apps and sites. Some sites can broadcast location, email, phone numbers, or more to the public by default.
Know the risks of jailbreaking/rooting
Manufacturers place security restrictions and safeguards on their devices to protect users’ devices and data. Jailbreaking or rooting removes these limitations, leaving the system more vulnerable to malware and other threats.
Use relevant built-in security features
You can improve your mobile device’s security by using built-in anti-theft apps like Find My iPhone. This app can help you locate your phone, track where it is or where it’s been, and remotely erase data in case you can’t recover the device. Users can activate the feature under Settings > Accounts & Passwords > iCloud > Find My iPhone. Android users have the same feature which they can access at google.co.uk/android/devicemanager. If they want to erase the device’s data and keep it locked in the event the device goes missing, they can go to Settings > Security > Device administrators and leave the Android Device Manager checked.