10 Actionable Tips for Better Mobile Security

By May 19, 2016 Business

No matter how or where you work, security is crucial. We all need to protect our data and block any unwanted, unwelcome intrusions. It is great if your job allows you the flexibility to be able to work away from your office with the help of a smart phone, Android tablet, iPad or laptop. However, you should take the security of these devices just as seriously as you do your desktop computers. Mobile devices could easily misplace, stolen or be exposed though accessing Internet especially while on the go. Here are a few tips to help keep your work and devices secure wherever you are.

1. Password access

Setting a password, passcode, or PIN to access your device is generally simple and effective. Use a code that is four digits or longer and keep it secret. If your phone falls into the wrong hands, a password is the first line of defence for your personal data. To keep your information private, create a password for your phone and set your screen to auto-lock within five minutes.

2. Avoid connecting with Hotspot connections

When you have a mobile device, it is tempting to connect anytime, anywhere using the nearest open Wi-Fi network rather than eating up your data plan. Most Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t encrypted so anyone within range can eavesdrop on the data you send and receive from the Internet and your mobile device. Eavesdropping on Wi-Fi connections isn’t rocket science. It just takes a curious individual with free tools and some spare time. There are many software programs out there that can capture and display your data that’s being transmitting through the air waves. It doesn’t even have to be the person at the next table. A typical Wi-Fi router has a range of 100 meters so it could be someone sitting in the café over the road or even in a nearby car park.

Until recently, mobile data speeds simply weren’t fast enough to use a phone network for sending and receiving large files. However, connecting via 4G, download speeds are now up to 60 megabits per second, probably double the speed you can expect using a public Wi-Fi hotspot, especially in busy periods when a lot of people are sharing the network. The cost of mobile data has also dropped to a level that a small business can afford. Choosing to use mobile data, which is encrypted can greatly reduce the chance of an eavesdropper from capturing your traffic and intercepting passwords and sensitive data not already encrypted.

Another problem with open Wi-Fi networks is rogue hotspots, often with names like “Free Public Wi-Fi”, which trick people into connecting to what they think are legitimate hotspots. Cyber criminals set up such operations to steal information from unsuspecting users. Once attackers have connected to your device via a rogue network, they can observe passwords in transit and even forge links and other content on the websites users are visiting.

3. Disable Bluetooth

Disable Bluetooth connectivity on your device unless you need it. Hackers and data thieves can use Bluetooth connections to eavesdrop on your device and access your sensitive data.

4. Don’t allow automatic connections

Your phone, tablet or laptop may be set up to automatically connect with available Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth devices. Disabling this option will prevent your phone from connecting and transmitting data without you realising it. Even if you are not directly accessing a Wi-Fi network, some of your mobile applications such as Skype, Twitter and instant messaging apps may be using local hotspots in the background.

5. Keeping your device physically secure

The most effective method of protecting the data on your mobile device is to protect the device itself. Either keep your device with you at all times or leave it in a secure physical location. This can prevent not only malicious access to your data, but inadvertent or accidental loss or damage of your data (e.g., when a child finds your device and attempts to use it).

Be aware of your surroundings. Make sure no one is peering over your shoulder when you log into your operating system, email or other accounts.

6. Update your software

Ensure your antivirus and malware protection is up-to-date, as well as your operating system. Operating system updates not only keep your system running smoothly, but they also patch security holes. Device manufacturers and app developers frequently update their software to fix newly exploited security gaps, but if you don’t download and install these updates your information is still at risk. Keep in mind that nothing is one hundred percent secure on the Internet. But the more layers of security you add, the better protected you’ll be.

7. Disable file and print sharing

Disabling the file and printer sharing network component helps to prevents unauthorised access to your files, printers, and network. You can usually turn these off from your operating system’s network settings menu.

8. Have strong passwords

Passwords are designed to keep data secret. Like the lock on your front door, they protect your digital security. There’s no guarantee that strong passwords will prevent an attack, but they will make it more difficult.

9. Use discretion when downloading apps

Unfortunately, even the most innocent-looking app can contain software designed to steal personal data, make fraudulent charges or even hijack your phone. Only download apps from sites you trust, check the app’s rating and read reviews to make sure they’ are widely used and respected before you download. Make sure your system setting ‘Unknown sources’ is unchecked to prevent dropped or drive-by-download app installs.

Check privacy settings on apps. Some apps request a lot of information from you, including your location and passwords or access to other apps or your text messages. If they don’t need all of that information, then deny access.

10. Work offline

An offline device is one that is not actively connected to any network. In this case, the potential attack vectors (methods by which a device can be accessed for malicious purposes) are limited because there is no way to get data onto or off of the device. Loss, theft, and dormant malware are still issues to be concerned about with a disconnected device. If you don’t need to be connected, switch off.


There’s no reason to stop leveraging your phone, tablet and laptop for convenience and productivity when on the go. Just be sure to apply a few risk prevention checks in place first.

Caroline Siassios

About Caroline Siassios

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