Protect Your Mobile Device

Play it Safe with Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are small and lightweight, easy to carry with you — and also easy to misplace and lose. Watch this video to learn how to play it safe with mobile devices.

Here are some good practices you can use with any mobile device. Click here for specific tips to keep your Apple or Android device protected.

Secure your device

  • Create a strong password for your mobile device that is easy to remember, but hard to guess. Don't use common words, names, birthdays or any personal information in your password.
  • Use your device's auto-lock feature. We recommend you set your auto-lock to take effect 5 mimutes from the last activity.
  • Don't share your device with others. Since you can't set separate passwords on your mobile device, like you can when logging into computers, it's best not to share your device with anyone.

Back up and protect your data

  • Back up your data regularly. We recommend syncing your mobile device with your computer.
  • Delete any text messages or emails that contain sensitive information. We recommend that you never disclose sensitive, personal information about yourself via a text message or email. Sensitive personal information can include your driver's license number, social security number, password, and account numbers.
  • Mobile device companies regularly provide updates to the mobile device operating system which include security patches. Check with your device manufacturer for information on how to get the most recent updates.
  • Apple's iCloud service offers backup for your Apple devices with iOS5. Once you set up the service, it encrypts your data and backs up daily as long as you are connected to the Internet via wi-fi, are connected to a power source and have your screen locked.

Download secure applications

  • Be cautious about what applications you download.  Prior to installing a new app, check the ratings and comments to be aware of what the app does and what information it may access on your mobile device.
  • Be aware that malware (viruses and trojans) and fraudulent applications exist. Only download mobile applications from authorized application stores like the Apple App Store or the Android Market.

If you lose your mobile device

Note: Phones are smaller and easier to lose than other devices; it's always best to know which actions to take if you lose any device.

  • If you lose your mobile device, report the loss immediately to your carrier (if you've lost a cell phone) or your company (if you've lost a company-owned mobile device). Here are quick links to 4 of the major U.S. carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon.
  • If you believe your device has been lost or stolen, immediately go online and change passwords for financial and personal accounts to prevent any identity theft or fraud.

Other

  • Don't "jailbreak" or "root" your mobile device.  Jailbreaking or rooting means you are overriding some of the software features and limitations of the mobile device. Although this may be tempting, this leaves your device more vulnerable to attacks and compromises.  It can also void warranties and render your phone completely unusable.

Apple and Android

Two very popular mobile offerings are from Apple and Android. Below are some specific tips to help you with these devices.

Apple

  • When you set your passcode on your iPhone, you can do a few things to make it as strong as possible:
    • Turn off the simple passcode feature so you can enter more than a 4 digit passcode.
    • Set the Auto Lock feature to require a new passcode after a set period of time. We recommend no longer than 5 minutes.
    • In conjunction with Auto Lock, also set the Require Passcode feature which activates after the display has been idle for a certain period of time or if you press the iPhone Sleep button. You will be required to enter a passcode on wakeup.
    • Enable Data Erase by setting the number of failed passcodes that can be entered prior to all data being erased from the phone. We recommend you do not allow more than 10 attempts. Note: As long as you regularly back up your device by syncing with iTunes, you will not lose your data.
  • Set up "Find my iPhone" to help you locate your phone if it gets lost and to remotely wipe information from the iPhone.
  • Only connect to networks you trust. To ensure you don't randomly connect to available Wi-Fi networks, set the "Ask to Join Networks" function.
  • For applications that contain sensitive data, set a separate passcode (different than any others you are using) for each application.
  • Delete any messages with sensitive information.
  • Only download applications from the Apple App Store.
  • Apple's iCloud service offers backup for your Apple devices with iOS5. Once you set the service up, it encrypts your data and backs up daily as long as you are connected to the Internet via wi-fi, are connected to a power source and have your screen locked.
  • Apple provides updates to the operating system which may contain security patches.  To receive the latest updates, connect to iTunes. If you are running iOS5 or greater, you can receive these updates over the air by using Settings/General/Software Updates.
  • For more information about how to protect your Apple device, visit the Apple security page.

Android

  • On an Android, create a password that is easy for you to remember, but difficult for others to guess.
  • Set the "Lock phone after" feature (Note: feature names may differ depending on your device) to require a new password after a set period of time. We recommend no longer than 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the "Visible Passwords" feature to keep your password from displaying on the screen so others can't easily learn your password.
  • Turn off "use secure credentials" which automatically allows applications to access secure certificates and credentials.
  • Turn off "Wi-Fi" when you are not connecting to a wireless network to ensure you don't inadvertently connect to a wireless network.
  • We recommend you only download applications from trusted app stores such as the Android Market or the Amazon App Store. There are other app stores selling Android apps; take the time to research them prior to downloading.
  • Delete any messages with sensitive information.
  • Set a separate password for every application you access that contains sensitive data or information.
  • Google provides updates to the Android operating system which may contain security patches. Check with your service provider or the manual that came with your device for information on how to get the most recent updates. For many devices, the updates are automatically provided.
  • For more information about how to protect your Android, visit the Android security page.
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