Personal Resource Center

Security for Mobile and Other Handheld Devices

Security for Mobile and Other Handheld Devices

Cell phones. Tablets. Music players. e-Readers. Gaming devices. A vast array of handheld devices are available, most of which contain Wi-Fi or wireless connectivity options. While the devices offer tremendous convenience, their growing popularity makes them a more acute target for hackers, so it’s important that you consider the safety of your personal information on whatever device you use.

Security researchers say mobile threats generally fall in three major categories: 

  • Data loggers that steal information from a mobile device
  • Auto-dialers that call premium call services to run up excessive charges
  • Ransomware that encrypts data on a handset and demands payment to allow the user to recover it

Here are some security tips that apply to mobile and tablet devices:

  • Use the auto-lock and password features. If you do leave your device unattended, an automatic lock can protect you by preventing hackers from accessing your information or changing the passwords to your accounts. Setting it to lock after 5 minutes is advisable.
  • Be sure to only download apps from official sources. Unauthorized apps may have malicious software designed to steal personal and financial data.
  • Turn your devices and accessories off when they’re not in use. Bluetooth is a great example of a technology that is better left off when you’re not using it.
  • Don’t use a charger that doesn’t belong to you. Public charging stations look like an attractive option, but they can actually be modified with microcomputers that can grab your information.
  • Keep your system and software up to date. Updates often fix known security issues, so not updating can leave you vulnerable.
  • Use the location feature sparingly. If an application asks for access to the GPS system on your device, considered whether it’s really necessary for the application to do what you need it to. If not, deny the request.
  • Physically protect your devices. One of the worst-case scenarios is that someone steals your device altogether and has access to all of the information on it. Carrying your device in a holster or the same place all the time can help.
  • If available, register for a service like Apple’s “Find My iPhone” that lets you lock, track, and erase your device. If your device does get into the wrong hands, this can save you a lot of additional problems.
  • Dispose of your device properly. In order to make sure that information on your device cannot be recovered, you’ll need to completely clear the device.

The rewards of using mobile and handheld devices can be great, just make sure they are not overshadowed by the risks. Use your devices as safely as possible.