Securing gadgets at the palm of your hand
Written by Roderick Lia
Access to your data and services is now closer to your fingertips. Being ‘always connected’ makes our data and systems accessible from any device or location and at any point in time.
In this regard, the security of our data and systems is vital. First and foremost, we must ensure the protection of our identity. Secondly, we must safeguard our data, be it sensitive such as financial details or non-sensitive such as the photos taken whilst on a holiday.
The protection of mobile devices that give access to such data is crucial. Failing to protect your device might lead to unauthorised access, which may result in the compromise of data or even data loss. The repercussions may have different results upon yourself, your loved ones and your life.
Cyber Security Awareness and Education campaigns around the globe like Cyber Security Malta – www.cybersecurity.gov.mt emphasise the need to adopt cyber hygiene practices within your daily lifestyle in order to protect your data and devices. Adopting such practices before it is too late, and keeping yourself abreast with the latest trends, are key for the utmost protection of your devices and data whilst on the move.
Although standards are in place across the world, devices and different operating systems offer different varieties of security features. We encourage you to follow your vendors’ recommendations about which security best practices can be adopted from your end.
The below are some quick guides to start you off:
On your Device
- Set a complex password, pin, passphrase or biometrics to access a device. Setting up at least two of these is a good start although other measures are required.
- Use different passwords for different accounts. Using a variety of passwords will limit the extent of the breach just in case this happens.
- Change your password, pin, passphrase frequently. Changing them regularly, makes them more secure and difficult to guess.
- Download apps only from official stores. Downloading from official sources may keep malware apps away from your device.
- Keep your Operating System and Apps updated. Updating to the latest versions apart from having the latest features, will mitigate vulnerabilities.
- Don’t leave devices unattended. Having physical access to your device, enables cybercriminals to steal your data apart from the device itself.
- Lock devices when not in use. Locking down your device prevents from accidental hits whilst keeping away trespassers. You may set your device to automatically lock after a period of inactivity.
- Enable Multi Factor Authentication (MFA). Usernames and passwords on their own are not considered as secure and thus the recommended use of MFA. Adding an extra layer of security that sends you or requires a code generated on a previously determined device is also helpful.
- Be cautious when Apps ask for permissions to phone’s photos, microphone, location and notifications. Giving access to necessary resources only and while in use, can offer some peace of mind.
- Set privacy settings on your device. Hiding notifications if phone is locked, protects you from eavesdropping and stops others from accessing your information without you knowing.
- Enable Apps’ permissions with caution. Only use the permissions necessary for your app to work.
- Enable the ‘Track my device’ feature for tracking purposes. Tracking your device will help you find your device if you lose it or otherwise.
- Enable the remote locking or wiping option after several incorrect logins. Attempting to access your mobile without you knowing might give away your device but at least not your data.
- Never reply to unexpected messages or click/tap on links from unknown or unexpected sources. Replying to an unexpected message or clicking/tapping on erroneous links might lead you to become a ransomware or a phishing victim.
- Use known Wi-Fi networks that are secure. Having access to Wi-Fi which is open does not mean that it is secure.
- Limit the use of public Wi-Fi for non-sensitive data only. Accessing banking, personal information or corporate’s data over a public Wi-Fi is not recommended.
Adopting such practices before it is too late, and keeping yourself abreast with the latest trends, are key for the utmost protection of your devices and data whilst on the move.