The extent to which our mobile devices contain our lives should tell us of the need for mobile security. Just as we lock and secure our homes, protect our computers and click the key fob as we leave the car, the emotional and financial valuables within mobile devices require attention as well.
Awareness plays a vital role in securing mobile devices. While it’s true that an abundance of information is available on the web, Global Learning Systems specializes in raising awareness of mobile security issues and can help you prevent attackers from making real on possible threats.
Mobile Security Threats
Lost or stolen devices bring inconvenience, but also can mean the loss of sensitive information such as account numbers and confidential work. But, loss and theft comprise only part of the threat. Phishing scams, malware and spyware, Quick Response (QR) codes and unsecured WiFi networks raise issues as well.
But wait, there is more. The value of digital assets stored on mobile devices in 2013 was estimated at over $35,000. Still, over 20 percent of people remain unaware of cyber risks. Plus, 75 percent of smartphone users and 86 percent of tablet users do not protect them comprehensively.
If you are among those people not recognizing the need for mobile security, it may be time to listen carefully. Mobile threats are on the increase.
Mobile Best Practices
An uninvited guest roaming your house while you are away would be more than uncomfortable for you. The same holds true for your cyber home. You typically lock the front door of your house, so you should lock your device. Personal identification numbers (PINs) and passwords prevent unauthorized access. Do not store passwords and usernames in your browser or on apps. This practice leaves the door open for thieves to access your accounts.
Good practice includes locking your mobile screen and setting passwords and user privileges for any installed apps. Average thieves cannot bypass the locked screen protecting your information. Auto-locking features may prove annoying for some users, but are significantly valuable in mobile security.
Mobile antivirus installation protects your devices by detecting and stopping existing and emerging threats. These apps play the role of bodyguard for your device. Many free app options exist to protect phones and tablets from malware, viruses and hackers.
Be aware that not all in the cyber world has good intent. Shop wisely at reputable app stores. Research an app and its publishers before downloading any content. Privacy policies inform users of the access an app gains once downloaded. Use the privacy policies and look for the amounts and types of data the app accesses as well as what third-party sharing permissions are involved. These cautions can prove valuable in mobile safety. Review and use a rating aid in this research as well. The warning: If you are at all uncomfortable or nervous about the source, do not download.
While most sensitive information is not protected in this way, backing up data reduces the inconvenience of restoring the information or starting from scratch. Modern device capabilities simplify this process, even wirelessly.
Software updates sometimes can make us leery or seem inconvenient. But updates correct security gaps and ensure optimal protection. Also, tampering with the limitations of your device or software opens security holes. Leave the provider’s restrictions in place.
While shopping or banking, be sure to click “log off” when finished and before closing the browser. This practice shuts the door to thieves should your device be stolen. Also, be aware that unsecured WiFi networks put you at risk. Banking and shopping transactions should be left for networks with security measures in place. Public connections rarely provide protection. Perhaps window shopping remains the safest bet until a secure network is reached.
Know where you are going. Check site URLs before typing sensitive information, even passwords. This practice applies to banking and shopping sites as well as unsolicited text and email attachments. Shortened URLs and QR codes lead to potential danger. Turning off WiFi, location services, and Bluetooth capabilities when not needed closes yet another door to cybercriminals. Remember that unsecured networks can make your device a mark for thieves.
The fact remains that mobile devices are just that — mobile. And, they can walk off in hands that are not yours. The cold truth tells that 3.1 million Americans were victims of smartphone theft in 2013. While inconvenient, your mobile device can be replaced. Unfortunately, data left in unsavory hands is what puts you at risk. So, what measures can you take when a device is stolen? First, implement the tips above. Second, most devices support a remote wipe feature through which you can erase your data upon giving notice that the device is missing.
There are several ways to accomplish this task depending on whether you use the Apple iPhone, Google Android, Microsoft Windows or others. Researching on the web or contacting customer service for your device can walk you through the steps. Global Learning Systems also provides services and courses addressing these issues, so contact us today!