Modern smartphones and other mobile devices now have large storage capacities, which means they have increasingly become a target for smart hackers. With the majority of us having at least one device in which a large amount of personal data is stored, it is important to start taking the security of our mobile devices seriously.
Small devices can be lost or stolen with greater ease, which is particularly worrying for businesses which may have adopted modern Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies within the workplace, as sensitive company data can be subject of a security breach.
Northdoor, a UK IT consultancy which specialises in data security, IBM storage and cloud computing, discusses how we can overcome the risks associated with mobile device security in order to properly secure our data.
Public Wi-Fi hotspots
At some point, most people will have used their mobile device to connect to a public Wi-Fi, particularly those who carry out work remotely or attend business meetings out-of-office. It is important to note, though, that connecting to any Wi-Fi network in a public area carries risk, since we do not know if the connection is secure.
Security threats can occur when people thoughtlessly connect to any open public network, which can then have the ability to view data on our devices or monitor websites we have visited, which becomes even likelier where a website is not encrypted.
To avoid potential data breaches, it is sensible to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to public networks. These work to secure the connection on a device, protecting the data that is sent and received using an encryption process.
Securing the device itself
Smartphones and tablets can be lost or stolen easily, which is why taking proactive steps to keep devices as secure as possible is essential. Many people still do not even have a passcode enabled – perhaps the most simple and straightforward method of securing a device!
At the very least, passcodes should always be utilised, though a significant amount of new devices now have additional biometric security features, like face recognition technology and fingerprint ID entry. Keep your data safe by making use of them.
All passwords and entry codes should be difficult to interpret, varied across multiple devices, and kept completely confidential. Where company-owned devices are involved, IT support and business owners should be the only other people who have access to staff passcodes.
Modern mobile devices have lots of in-built security features which you should certainly make the most of. Apple devices, for instance, come with a Find my Device tool built in, which helps to locate lost or stolen gadgets. All you need to do is carry out your research and find out what your device is capable of.
Use apps with caution
When downloading a new app on a mobile device, it is important to err on the side of caution. Never instinctively click on a link for an app and download it to your smartphone or tablet without doing a little digging first. Apps can be infected with malware, which can put your personal or company data at great risk.
As such, always download apps from official app stores found on your device’s operating system, as well as checking the permissions granted to it. You can also better determine app legitimacy by carrying out some research and checking reviews, comments and ratings left by other users.
It is also highly beneficial to install a recognised security app across your devices, which are enabled at all times, ensuring these are kept up-to-date with the newest antivirus software.
Understand the risks
Absolutely anyone can become the victim of a mobile security breach, which is why educating ourselves as to the risks and how best to mitigate them is of paramount importance.
Business owners that allow employees to use mobile devices for work should be especially concerned and thus take proactive steps to ensure all staff are well-trained in security issues and safe device usage.
A company-wide policy on how to prevent threats to data is recommended and should govern the way in which employees use their devices. Such a policy typically includes guidelines on passwords, connecting via company VPN’s, how to spot phishing e-mails, installing apps, safe internet use and social media.