Mobile device users should be concerned about security. This is especially true if the mobile device is used for work and it is configured with your employer’s email or messaging server. IT staffs can take steps to protect the date on the mobile. Eric Geier, the founder of NoWiresSecurity writes provided CIO Update with 6 tips for better mobile device security.
Tip No. 1 – Choose a mobile OS that supports encryption and use it: Mr. Greer says make sure the mobile operating system (OS) and device supports hardware-based encryption. The article says Apple’s (AAPL) iOS and Research In Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry support encryption for both internal and external storage. Without encryption it’s possible that someone could recover the data on the device even without your lock PIN or password.
Full device encryption is limited and varies on current Android device manufactures. Mr. Greer writes that Motorola Mobility’s (MMI) business-oriented smartphones offers encryption capabilities on Android 2.3. Android 3.x includes an API to help developers offer encryption on tablets. Android 4.x tablets and smartphones should support encryption sometime in 2012. WhisperCore is a third-party encryption solution which is in beta for Nexus S and Nexus One.
Tip No. 2 – Set a lock pin or password: The article says that enabling a password, whether it’s called a PIN, passcode, or passphrase, is the first line of defense in maintaining privacy and security. It helps prevent others from picking up your phone or device and snooping around if it becomes lost, stolen, or just left unattended. It’s also usually required if encryption is enabled on the device writes the author. A PIN will protect data and privacy from the causal snoopers.
Tip No. 3 – Enable auto-wiping of data: Most mobile OSes support automatic wiping of the device’s data after a certain number of incorrect passwords attempts. Mr. Greer says auto-wiping is natively supported by iOS, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry. Android requires a third-party app, such as Autowipe.
It is important to keep all your data regularly backed up so the data can be restored to a new mobile after it is wiped.
Tip No. 4 – Setup remote tracking and management: Before your phone or device gets misplaced or stolen the blog recommends that a remote tracking and management system should be set up. Most let you see the device’s GPS location on a map, send audible alerts to help you find it, and display a visual message to tell others how to return it. They typically also let you remotely lock and/or wipe it before someone else gets their hands on it. According to Mr. Greer:
- For iOS 4.2 or later, Apple provides a free service.
- For earlier iOS versions there’s the MobileMe service from Apple at $99 a year after the 60 day free trial.
- For Android you have to use a third-party apps.
- For Windows Phone 7 Microsoft provides the free Windows Live for Mobile service.
- For BlackBerry, RIM provides the free BlackBerry Protect service.
Tip No. 5 – Limit Wi-Fi hotspot usage: When you use public Wi-Fi hotspots that aren’t encrypted, all your Internet traffic is transmitted through the air and can be easily intercepted. The most important sites and services, such as banking websites, usually implement their own (HTTPS/SSL) encryption that protects their individual traffic. But most email providers and many social networking sites don’t; thus eavesdroppers can likely capture their passwords and traffic.
On the other hand most 3G, 4G, and other cellular data connections are usually encrypted by the carriers. Plus eavesdropping on these types of connections isn’t as popular. Therefore, when you’re out and about you should try to use the data connection rather unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots.
If you insist on using Wi-Fi hotspots, use those that offer enterprise encryption and 802.1X authentication, such as from T-Mobile and iBahn. Alternatively, consider using a VPN connection to secure your traffic from local eavesdroppers.
Tip No. 6 – Use an antivirus or security app: Viruses, malware, and hacking on mobile devices is a growing problem. The author recommends installing a security app to help prevent infections and intrusions. Most AV solutions also offer other features, such as remote wiping, backup and locating.
- AVG and NetQin provide free security apps for Android.
- LookOut offers free apps for Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile.
- Some paid options include McAfee WaveSecure, Kaspersky Mobile Security and Trend Micro Mobile Security.
- Android malware explodes, jumps five-fold since July (infoworld.com)
- Apple iPhone Passes BlackBerry in Business Use, Survey Finds (pcworld.com)
- Smartphone Security: 5 Tricks that Will Help Keep Your Phone Secure (epicagear.com)