Protect Your Mobile Device – Part 2

This is the second of four articles explaining logical measures every user may take to protect his mobile device.

Use only Trusted Devices

As soon as your device is cracked certain apps have no restrictions and do what the developers have implemented. Be aware that your data may get lost or stolen and there is no protection or confidentially at all. Don’t use such devices for services requiring some kind of security like mobile banking, mobile payments, shopping, credit card payments and others. Don´t access your corporate data.

Protect yourself from Malware

Your smartphone or tablet is just another computer and can get infected. The first thing after you have bought your mobile device I recommend you to do is to install trustworthy device security (malware protection, antivirus software of well-known vendors) to protect your device from the start. All large vendors implementing device security solutions for desktop computers or notebooks offer appropriate apps for your specific device. Don´t forget to update software and attack database as often as possible.

Protect your Device Access

Lock your device using a lock screen where you are requested to enter a PIN code or a password, draw a pattern with your fingers or present your face to get access to your device. Be creative when you define your PIN code (“0000”, “1234” or your date of birth are very common but easy to guess).

Protect your hands when you enter your PIN code to make it difficult to other persons monitoring your fingers.

Software may help to prevent from guessing your PIN code. As soon as a specific threshold of tries is reached, the software wipes all data and resets the device to factory defaults. Use your preferred search engine and enter keywords like “mobile device management“ or “PIN lock wipe data” or similar combinations to get more information.

Face recognition should not be your first choice, think of different styles like a beard or specific makeup. Other biometrical identifiers could be your voice or your fingerprint. It depends on your device what is supported. All above mentioned user identification methods have their specific vulnerabilities. It is not the goal of this article to cover them.

Use only Trusted Networks

As soon as your Wireless Local Area Network interface is turned on your mobile device searches for WLANs and automatically tries to connect to the network. Then it starts to synch your emails, updates your apps, exchanges location information and much more. Enable your WLAN interface only when you are sure you want to use it. Otherwise turn it off! This will also save your battery power. Disable WLAN auto-detect, this prevents from automatic access to unsecure Wireless Local Area Networks.

BluotoothTM may be attacked by hackers to access to your mobile data. Don´t give them the chance. Enable BluetoothTM only when needed.

Mobile radio data services offered from public digital mobile networks (like Global System for Mobile communication, GSM, or Long Term Evolution, LTE) are more secure and hackers should not be able to intercept your information.

Depending on your service contract with your mobile operator you may pay for data transfers increasing a certain amount of data. To be sure not to generate unnecessary expenses you may disable (turn off) your mobile data usage.

Ask your mobile network operator what services are available to you. Additionally the providers offer security services like virus checks and spam blocks or full firewall services for your Internet access. I highly recommend using these services. Ask for them!

If you are uncertain about the security of your network only use secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections to protect your data. These connections can be used over Wireless Local Area Networks or public mobile networks. Virtual Private Networks usually require some sort of identification and should encrypt your data in background prior to the transfer through the Internet. Ask your IT manager or your provider what software and settings are required to protect your device.

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts and opinions. I appreciate your comments!

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Resources:

Book: Ronald Schlager: “Simple Security for Smartphone and Tablet”,

About the Author

Ronald Schlager is independent trainer, consultant, author and blogger with main emphasis on communications technologies and their applications.

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