Keep your new gadgets and data secure

Do you have a cell phone, Amazon Echo or Apple Watch on your holiday wish list? Smart devices play a quintessential role in keeping us connected on and off campus. But the technology that connects us also puts our data at risk.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 73% of adults in the U.S. believe they have very little or no control over the data companies collect about them. And what happens to that data once it has been collected? 

You have more control than you think through the actions you take with your smart devices. Follow these steps to protect your personal and business data:

  • Change your default settings. Did you know many smart devices and services collect, share, store or sell your data by default? But that doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. You should periodically review the privacy and security settings on your devices, apps and accounts to make sure you’re not sharing more than intended. See the Mozilla Foundation’s Holiday Guide for a wealth of information about how individual products handle your data.
  • Install security updates. Manufacturers and app developers regularly update their software to fix bugs and vulnerabilities. You should always apply these security updates as soon as possible to keep your data safe from cybercriminals. To ensure you don’t miss anything, consider setting up automatic updates.
  • Protect your devices in case of loss or theft. Be sure to lock your devices when not in use with a passcode, pattern or biometric authentication such as a fingerprint scan. Also consider enabling device-finding functionality to help you not only locate your missing gear but remotely lock or wipe data if needed.
  • Don’t expose IoT to the public internet. Be sure to place your IoT or other smart devices behind your home network firewall, which is a feature provided by most routers and wireless access points. If your network equipment allows for creating segments in your home network, it is wise to separate IoT devices from other connected devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets. See your network equipment help guides for assistance.
  • Set up two-factor authentication (2FA). Duo Security, NC State’s 2FA solution, adds a powerful layer of protection for your data. Download the Duo Mobile app on your new smartphone or tablet for convenient and secure authentication. For more information, see How do I add a new device to Duo?
  • Delete apps you don’t need. How many apps have you downloaded and never used again? More apps means more data collected about you. Take stock of the apps running on your devices and delete any that you don’t need. For services you do use, many can be accessed through a secure web browser for more privacy.
  • Turn off and unplug. Consider muting, unplugging or disabling microphones, speakers and cameras when you are not actively using them. Although convenient, capabilities such as Bluetooth, Near Field Communication and GPS make it easy for criminals to access your data.
  • Reset old devices. Before selling or disposing of old smart devices, it’s a good idea to wipe all data stored on them. By resetting to the factory settings, you can help prevent identity theft, data breaches or data disclosure.

Check out this list compiled by the National Cybersecurity Alliance to learn how to access your privacy and security settings on many popular devices and services.

If you have questions about how to keep your smart devices secure, contact the NC State Help Desk via the NC State IT Service Portal or call 919.515.HELP (4357).