It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security while checking your email at Starbucks or accessing your favorite website on the bus ride home from work. When you take a minute to think about the personal information that is available via your devices, it becomes clear that security should be a major concern. The ultimate benefit of keeping up with your security settings is the precious commodity known as peace of mind.

Smartphones

Your smartphone has a huge amount of personal information on it, which may include access to your social security number, bank account information, and personal details found on various social sites you may use on a regular basis. Whether you are using an Android device or using some other OS, take the following steps for increased security:

1. Lock Your Screen

This may be a little inconvenient if you want to just grab your phone and start sending messages or accessing your various online accounts, but it is an important first line of defense from preventing someone from grabbing your phone and doing a little snooping. This can also be a valuable protection if you should lose your phone.

• Go to Settings/Security

• Enable PIN and Password features

• Select a PIN number or password to use to access your device

2. Disable USB Debugging

When this setting is enabled, the data on your smartphone or any mobile device can be accessed without getting a lock screen request first.

• Go to Settings

• Disable USB debugging

Note: You will also get a lock screen challenge when Full Disk Encryption is enabled (under Security settings).

3. Maintain Your Smartphone

Make sure that your smartphone is running the latest software. This is important since newer software often has the latest virus protections included. Usually, you will get prompted by your smartphone provider to upgrade your OS. It’s a good idea to go ahead and do this when you get prompted to do so. Updated software doesn’t prevent all security attacks, but it does minimize vulnerabilities.

Other Mobile Devices

There are certain security precautions that you should take with any mobile device. Malicious software can get into your mobile device and access your passwords and other personal information. Even if your password is not known, a hacker can use certain pieces of personal data to request a new password. Security precautions that apply to any mobile device include:

Apps

Attackers know that people have a tendency to download apps without too much hesitation. It’s best to stick to official app stores like the Apple Store, GetJar, Amazon App Store, and the Android Market. If you are an Apple user, you have to enter your Apple ID to complete an app purchase. This can be annoying if you’re purchasing multiple apps, but the added security is worth it.

Note: Android’s open multitasking system allows you to run an app in the background that blocks access to certain apps by unauthorized users.

Device Encryption

Full device encryption requires that you enter a password code each time you boot your device. After you do this, your device will operate normally. On Android 4.0, these settings are found under Security in your Settings tab on the main system. If you forget your code, you’ll have to use a boot-loader to hard reset it. You do lose all your data though. The encryption process drains most mobile devices, so it’s best to have your device plugged into a power source.

Note: Motorola and the Android 3.0 and above offer this option. Some Samsung devices also offer it.

Data Encryption

Apple automatically encrypts all devices it offers without the requirement of a password. When you add a PIN code to data encryption, your device is fairly secure against most threats and theft. Other operating systems have began implementing similar encryption features.

Finally, considering going further with data protection. Data protection for your devices allows you to go beyond encryption for an additional layer of protection. Data protection uses your existing PIN code to provide extra encryption for your emails and attachments and other access points on your device. Ultimately, you need to have some type of policy when it comes to the data you wish to encrypt and protect on your various mobile devices.

About our Guest Author:
Sarah Hendricks is a security expert on protecting users and businesses from hackers and data leakage. Users in the office, at home, or working remotely are all subject to attack. Sarah has teamed up with NQ.com anti virus software to keep mobile devices protected nation wide!