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CHIPS Articles: Mobile Device Protection and Safety Practices

Mobile Device Protection and Safety Practices
By Lt. Cassandra Pristas - January-March 2017
It is that time of year where holiday shopping is on the rise and many people travel. Many mobile users can become unmindful to their surroundings and place a large portion of personal information on their mobile devices. Online shopping has become the main source to purchase goods and services, and connect via social media, but people must also be aware of their environment. Using your devices to pay for goods and services, and sharing photos and information with friends and family is significantly higher this time of the year but you must also think about the threats that exist.

For example, online surfing and shopping has also increased the risk of identity theft. Unsecured systems allow hackers to gain access to personal information. So what can one do to protect privacy information?

The following steps can help protect mobile users against unauthorized access to devices and protect against potential hackers and data compromise.

  1. Do not share your passwords with anyone. If you have a hard time keeping track of your passwords, purchase a password protection application that allows you to store information securely.
  2. Do not use your mobile device in public hot spots that are not secure. If you must use an unsecure hot spot, be sure your mobile device is protected. “Evil Twins” exist, meaning you may think you are connecting to a valid Wi-Fi access point, but are actually connecting to a fake wireless connection where an attacker is waiting for your entrance.
  3. Download a legitimate anti-virus, anti-malware software program for your laptop or mobile device. Ensure you are up-to-date on your anti-virus software definitions.
  4. Be sure your mobile device is screen protected. Should you lose your phone, locking the screen will prevent access to your personal information.
  5. Install the Find My Phone app; this will help locate your phone, iPad or any mobile device, should it become lost or stolen.
  6. Do not shop or bank on your mobile device, especially in public places where potential hackers are scanning for unprotected mobile devices. Access bank accounts or online shopping at home.
  7. Install up-to-date patches on your laptop or mobile devices. Keep in mind, apps and operating systems on your mobile devices are vulnerable, so patching your devices will help deter potential vulnerabilities.
  8. If shopping with your mobile devices, be sure you access well-known, credible sites that are secure and include https in the URL.
  9. When using social media sites, and sharing your photos, check your security settings. Photos have the ability to show your location, known as geotagging. Turn this feature off.
  10. Be sure you use passwords that are complex and consist of numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and special characters. Do not use dictionary words which can be easily hacked.

Remember, not one method alone is going to protect your mobile devices, but applying all these steps and being vigilant will help protect your data. No one is completely immune from attacks, but being aware of the different methods to protect your devices is a good start.

Lt. Cassandra Pristas is the N6 Department Head for NIOC Pensacola, Florida.

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