Everyday Security Tip #2 – Device Security

Nowadays, losing your smartphone or laptop is just as bad, or worse, than losing your wallet. As devices get faster and enterprise apps are released, more and more people use them for business. Whether it’s the e-mails, contacts, or even apps, losing your device, or having it stolen, can be crippling. Some use their smartphones to coordinate and run their business, while others rely on them as a means of always being connected. By following the steps below, you can prevent others from accessing your devices and data. This may not stop you from losing your smartphone, or stop a thief from taking it, but it will certainly minimize the potential damage to your business.

1. Always have a lock screen with a timer.

This one may seem obvious, but is nonetheless important. Most devices provide a lock screen with the option of a PIN, password, pattern, or fingerprint scanner as a means of unlocking. Make sure to couple this with a timer, which will make sure your screen is locked after a period of inactivity.

iPhone and iPad

  1. Open “Settings”
  2. Go to “Touch ID & Passcode”
  3. Hit “Turn Passcode On” (If you’d like to use a password instead of a PIN, make sure to disable “Simple Passcode”)
  4. Go back to “Settings”
  5. Hit “General”
  6. Hit “Auto-Lock”
  7. Choose a time limit.

Android

  1. Open “Settings”
  2. Hit “Security” (under “Personal”)
  3. Hit “Screen Lock” (under “Screen Security”)
  4. Choose the wanted screen lock mechanism.
  5. Hit “Automatically Lock” (under “Screen Security”)
  6. Choose a time limit

2. Avoid rooting or jailbreaking your device.

Rooting (Android) and jailbreaking (iPhone, iPad) enable users to modify parts of the operating system that cannot normally be accessed. This includes installing custom apps that aren’t allowed on the app store and customizing other “locked” features. However, doing so may expose your device to malware, which could be used to access your personal information.

3. Only install trusted apps.

Before installing an app from the app store, make sure to verify that the maker is legitimate. If you don’t recognize the author, and can’t find any reviews or comments, avoiding the app may be best. For Android users, be wary of apps that can only be installed outside of the official store.

4. Keep the device, and apps, up to date.

We know the update icons constantly appearing on your apps are annoying. We know you just updated yesterday, and you really don’t feel doing it again. However, you should know that the companies releasing these updates do so for your benefit. Whether it’s to improve the app, fix a bug, or patch a security flaw, the update will improve your experience, and may help protect your information.

5. Back up your data.

Your devices probably have a lot of data, like pictures, contacts, and notes. Some of these may not be security critical, but are still a pain to lose. Backing up your devices insures that you won’t lose too much data if it’s stolen, lost, or broken.

6. Activate your “kill switch”.

Most smart phones and tablets now come with a mechanism to remotely wipe all data on the device. This is one of the best ways to secure your data, because if your phone is lost or stolen, you can immediately wipe it and make sure no one else can use it. For iPhones, this is done using the "Find My iPhone" feature, and turning on “Lost Mode” after logging in to iCloud. Android, starting with Lollipop, includes the “Device Protection” feature, which also allows you to wipe your device remotely. If this is combined with the point above, you are less likely to lose your data.

7. Encrypt your devices.

This one is also important, but isn’t as widely used. Encrypting your device prevents unauthorized users from accessing your data, even if they managed to get into your device. The downside of this is performance – after encryption, your device may perform slower than before. Device manufacturers are working on improving this, which should lead to wider adoption.