Mobile device users depend upon their smartphones, tablets and laptops to email, chat and access sensitive data, including medical, banking and financial information. Many, however, are unfamiliar with the potential and devastating effects of cyber threats and neglect to secure their devices. To keep your sensitive data safe, be aware of vulnerabilities that could make it easy for someone to access your device and follow these security tips:
- Password protect your device with a strong passphrase or passcode. This may never happen to you, but people do lose their mobile devices. If it does happen and your device is password-protected, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that no one can access your apps, pictures and other sensitive data.
- Only install apps from trusted sources. One of the most commonly known sources of vulnerabilities are mobile apps. Before you install an app, read the notifications from your device to learn how the app impacts your data privacy and security. Think long and hard before giving up your privacy and providing access to sensitive data for the thrills of the next new mobile game or funny screensaver.
- Do not access or send sensitive data via public Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi hotspots, unless you are using a VPN. These networks are open to the public and visible by anyone within a nearby range.
- Disable your GPS and Wi-Fi on your mobile devices, when not in use.
When these functions are enabled, your location is broadcast to a number of entities including your service provider and app developers. To minimize this broadcast, turn off these functions when they are not needed. Think before you make personal information such as your location, Internet data usage, app usage, and content data available.
- Patch, patch and patch again. Make sure your operating system and apps are up-to-date with the latest security patches to correct vulnerabilities.
- Enable 2-Step Verification, if available, on your accounts. 2-Step Verification, also known as 2 Factor Authentication, adds an additional layer of security when you sign into your account. Once you activate this security measure, you will be required to log in with your password and an additional security measure (e.g., a security code that is delivered to your mobile device via text, voice call or mobile app, a USB security key, printed backup codes). To view a list of applications that support 2-Step Verification, see Two Factor Auth (2FA).
- Arm yourself with more security knowledge. Watch brief SANS Securing the Human videos to get additional cyber security tips.