Editor’s Note: Oyek Dan is passionate about economics and technology, sees data as the meeting point of these two ends with a vested interest in how this interaction can best be protected. Hence, data security at the front and back end. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Blog.
There I was, with a hot cup of coffee, channel surfing for the latest news when I came across a forum on CNN that piqued my interest – it was about mobile platforms being the new target of hackers. This comes at a time when news agencies and tabloids have been accused of disregarding every rule on privacy, pilfering personal information from the mobile devices of government officials.
One of the guests at the forum made a notable remark. In his own words, “leaving your device unprotected is like leaving the door to your house wide open and not expecting anyone to come in.” While some might be thinking ‘ANTIVIRUS’, I am thinking ‘PASSWORDS’ at the lowest level.
Passwords can be so inconvenient because they tend to slow us down when we need to access information on our mobile devices – and when the device is timed to auto-lock, the inconvenience triples. Just like a lock on your door, if it inconveniences you, how much more the fellow who doesn’t have the keys (in this case, your password).
Here are a few security tips that go a long way in securing your mobile device:
- Use a password or PIN to access your smartphone (preferably both) thus rendering the phone and the SIM inaccessible. Use the longest PIN and longest password possible but ensure it is something you won’t forget. Also, set a password for your external SD card as well.
- For voicemail users, set it such that a PIN must be entered even if you are calling in from your cell phone. Also, do not leave any sensitive information on any voice mail.
- Disable the “password save” function on your cell phone apps especially for apps that might contain personal or sensitive information.
- Use the default mail app on your phone and avoid logging into your mail account via your smartphone’s web page.
- Turn off the location based function on your phone apps, especially for Twitter and Facebook. Only turn it on when necessary and turn it off immediately you are done.
- Check your cell phone to be sure the “forward message” function is not turned on. Else, check the forwarding address daily to ensure your messages are not being redirected to the wrong address.
- Update your phone OS and regularly check for latest patches. These usually cover security updates for your device.
- Set data security encryption on your smartphone to high. Encryption makes it near impossible to remotely access your information and secures your SD card should it get stolen.
- Do not download applications unless you are sure of the origin and the vendor. Unless absolutely necessary, deny web access to these applications.
- Do not forget to set up remote find/remote wipe on your mobile device. Test this to be sure it works accordingly.
It is advisable to have separate devices for personal and business use. Regularly backing up your device (encrypted and passworded) is also important against cases where your device gets stolen or your data gets wiped. Remember, ‘security is not a product, but a process’.
[image via Flickr/ Malte Ahrens]