Think about all the data that’s stored and accessible from your smartphone, tablet or laptop nowadays… Scary isn’t it, the information in your back pocket or handbag that could so easily fall into the hands of a thief or hacker?
The security of that data is a big enough concern when it’s on a computer that stays on a desk in your office or home – but much more so when it’s out with you in cafés, shopping centres and wherever else you go.
If you’re buying a new device and you’ve so far been preoccupied with whether to go for the rose gold or the matt black casing, then it might be time refocus that attention.
Here are seven key areas to consider when it comes to device security, as advised by the UK Government:
- PINs, fingerprints and two-factor log-ins
A PIN, password or fingerprint proves to your device that you are authorised to use it. Once that’s unlocked you will have access to any online accounts associated with it, such as iCloud or Google – and keeping these secure is just as important as limiting access to the phone, tablet or laptop itself.
Strong passwords that aren’t reused across devices or accounts are the best defence against threats, and become even tougher to crack where two-factor identification is implemented. This is where you need a code from an app or text message along with your password to log in.
Making sure your security questions are hard to guess is similarly important, either by people who know you or by someone who’s snooped on your social media accounts. And devices that offer biometrics – such as fingerprint or face recognition – tend to be more secure, and often easier to use, than those that rely on passwords.
If your device is older, is it still supported by the manufacturer? And if it’s a phone on a contract, when will it be upgraded? These are important questions. When you’re prompted to install updates, it’s good practice to do so within a few days and check your app store to make sure you’ve downloaded the latest versions available.
- Paying attention to security and privacy features
Device systems have in-built defences that are there to prevent hackers from stealing data or installing malware. So, ensuring yours is running the latest version of the software is crucial, as it will have better security features than older ones.
Similarly, if you’re connecting to another device – via a USB cable or Bluetooth, for example – yours should prompt you to trust it before syncing data.Reading the manufacturer’s instructions on security features is a good idea. Don’t disable them – even if an app asks you to do this – and avoid developer mode, debug mode or ‘jailbreak’ or ‘root’, as they will often disable security as part of the process.
- Finding – and avoiding – malware
Certain apps and games installed on your device can be malicious – and used by hackers. To avoid this, use only a built-in app store that offers reputable applications, or alternatively, look for devices that have an anti-malware app that blocks anything suspicious from being installed.
Also, it’s good security practice to limit apps from accessing unnecessary data. Only enable photo or calendar access if this is absolutely essential.
- Scrambling your data
Turn on storage encryption – if it is not already enabled by default – to ensure your data can only be read by you, or someone with the right keys or passwords. And when you are choosing a new device, think about opting for one that supports specialised hardware encryption.If you are selling a phone, tablet or laptop, remember to securely erase the data using ‘factory reset’ and wiping or removing the memory card.
- Using the internet securely
There are many ways to protect your data when you connect to the internet. Check for the padlock symbol when making transactions and make sure you are using the legitimate website of the company you are trying to interact with.
Be careful with public WiFi networks and disable any services, or uninstall any apps, that you don’t intend to use. Finally, make sure your browser is up to date and check apps’ privacy policies to see what they say about data encryption.
- Limiting damage if your device is lost or stolen
Have you thought about what you would do if your device was lost or stolen? Some manufacturers include an online service to locate it and remotely lock or wipe it – another big consideration when preparing to purchase. If that service needs enabling, make sure you do so.
Also look out for automatic online data back-up options, so that if you misplace your phone or someone steals it, you don’t lose vital business files or personal information as well.
Want to make sure your devices and systems are as secure as they can be? Contact Q2Q today!