Secure your new devices

Over the holidays, Apple, Google and Amazon reported sales of million of devices, ranging from tablets and voice-service products to phones and laptops. If you received a new device, don’t forget to run a quick security check to protect yourself and your gadget.

Here are a few tips to secure both new and older devices:

  • Lock your device. Secure your devices with a strong password, pattern or biometric authentication. This will ensure that if you happen to lose your phone, the average criminal wouldn’t be able to access your personal information.
  • Secure your Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Your IoT devices, such as smart home thermostats, home-surveillance cameras, smart refrigerators, smartwatches, and lights need to be secured just like your mobile devices. One way to secure them is to change the default password to a strong password to prevent compromising your household devices.
  • Apply security updates. Manufacturers and application developers update their code to fix weaknesses and vulnerable code. Apply these security updates as soon as possible to ensure you’re fixing the identified weaknesses.
  • Install antivirus software. To detect viruses and other malware, install antivirus software if it is available for your device. Also enable automatic updating of the software to incorporate the most recently identified threats.
  • Disable unwanted and unneeded services. Disable applications or features that you don’t use. Capabilities, such as Bluetooth and network connections, provide convenience, but they can also make it too easy for a nearby, unauthorized user to gain access to your data. Be sure to turn these features off when you’re done using them.
  • Be careful when downloading apps. Make sure you trust the app providers and download your apps only from trusted sources, such as the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, as they are proactive about removing malicious apps to protect users.
  • Beware of free public Wi-Fi. These networks are open to the public and visible by anyone within a nearby range, so you shouldn’t perform an important action (e.g., banking transaction) online. If you need to access your account, disable the Wi-Fi and switch to your mobile network.
  • Set up two-factor authentication (2FA) services. This additional layer of protection prevents hackers from accessing your accounts, even if they obtain your login and password information via a phishing or smishing scam or malicious website. NC State requires employees to enroll in both Google 2-Step Verification and Duo Security to access many online campus services. Almost all other online service providers offer some form of 2FA as well. See Two Factor Auth (2FA).

Use caution and follow these tips to help secure your devices and protect your information.