In today’s digital age, when most of the population interacts with some aspect of the Internet with numerous types of mobile digital devices, it is essential to be aware of the inherent risks that may exist when you’re connected to the ‘Net. Your digital wireless device most likely contains data about you and your surfing habits that you would consider confidential. For example, many people store their online bank account passwords on these devices. GPS data recording travel activity is often stored there as well. This poses the question: what steps can you take to help protect that sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands?
Apply Patches Often
Updating your mobile device with the latest software patches from the manufactures reduces the number of break-in points that attackers can use against you. Many of the attacks performed today are a result of unpatched devices. By frequently applying the latest patches from the device vendor, you reduce the risk of an unwanted break-in.
Turn Off GPS
If you’re not using GPS functionality, disable it on the phone. This will have the added benefit of extending battery life.
Use Anti-Virus Software
If anti-virus software exists for your platform, install it and keep it updated. Choose software only from known reputable vendors; don’t install software from untrusted sites or from popup warnings.
Avoid High Risk Surfing
Resist the urge to do online banking on your mobile device. If you must do so, do not have the application remember the password. Also, use strong passwords that are changed frequently. Many people today recognize the need for strong passwords, but they often use the same password for all of their website logins. Should an attacker break the password to just one site, he would then have easy access to all the other sites, too. To prevent this from happening, use unique, strong passwords for each website login.
More Tips for Securing Mobile Devices
Here are some additional resources for information on securing mobile devices:
- Internet2 - Mobile Internet Device Security Guidelines
- Internet2 - Ten Steps to Secure Your Mobile Device
- Stanford University - Guidelines for Securing Mobile Devices
- Educause - Smartphone Privacy & Security: What Should We Teach Our Users?