As we move more of our work and personal lives digital and carry all of it in our pockets, the struggle to secure your smartphone can often feel daunting and confusing. If you follow a few simple steps, you can protect yourself from the vast majority of threats that exist—both physical and digital.
Here are seven easy ways to secure your smartphone, plus a few special considerations for enterprise IT folks.
- Disk Encryption
In the event that your device is lost or stolen, encrypting your device prevents malicious actors from getting your private information. If you use an iOS device, automatically encrypt your phone by setting up a pin or passcode. If you use an Android device, head into your settings pane and setup full disk encryption. Android links a password or passcode to the encryption scheme, so even if someone were to copy your data, it would be useless.
- Automatic Updates
Apps make it easy to get work done, keep up with friends and play games on the go. Unfortunately, sometimes these apps leak information or expose vulnerabilities. Set your phone to auto-install new app updates to avoid security risks. An added benefit is that oftentimes these updates include speed improvements and new features.
- Up-To-Date Operating System (OS)
Apple and Google constantly make improvements to iOS and Android. Throughout the year, both release new OS versions. Download these updates as soon as available to take advantage of new security improvements, which often reduce the threat surface for attackers and remove known vulnerabilities.
- Screen Lock
Physical security is just as important as good digital hygiene. Since most devices today include biometric capabilities, like TouchID or other fingerprint readers, the pain of constantly entering your device password is gone. Set your screen to lock with the minimum amount of time available on your device—oftentimes 30 seconds. This will prevent someone from grabbing your phone and accessing your data if you step away from your device.
Some dubious websites provide guidance on how to root (Android) or jailbreak (iOS) your device. This allows you to customize your device more than the manufacturer intended. While this might seem nice at first, this compromises the entire security model of the phone and exposes you to malicious actors and security vulnerabilities. By rooting or jailbreaking your device, you could give someone complete control and access to your data without even knowing it. Avoid jailbreaking or rooting your device.
- Malicious Profiles
Configuration profiles allow your corporate IT department or school to make it easier to access specific resources, like email on your smartphone. Sometimes, nefarious websites attempt to install a profile without you knowing. Questionable websites claim to offer free access to apps, games, movies or other content to install a configuration profile on your device. These malicious profiles can give full access to your device and web traffic. Avoid installing configuration profiles that do not come from your corporate IT department or school.
- Avoid Insecure Public Wi-Fi
Using public Wi-Fi is a great way to get mobile access to the web and email without using your data plan. Unfortunately, malicious actors can snoop on this traffic from your mobile device. To prevent this, avoid using unknown public Wi-Fi when possible or use a free solution like Opera VPN. Opera VPN and similar apps are available in app stores and encrypt traffic moving from your mobile device. This means no one can snoop.
Special Considerations for Enterprise IT Administrators
If our organization runs a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program, provides corporate-owned devices to employees or you are responsible for managing these devices within your organization, take note of some ways you can ensure security for your organization and employees:
- Use a product purpose built for managing mobile devices.
VMware AirWatch is a unified endpoint management (UEM) platform that allows your corporate IT department to manage iOS, Windows, Mac, Android and other devices in a single solution. AirWatch provides all of the tools IT needs to create and manage a mobility program:
- Configure policies including app blacklists, Wi-Fi security, TLS enforcement and more.
- Enforce a device-level passcode with complexity and history requirements.
- Revoke access to company apps and data automatically if compliance policies are violated.
- Enable device-level encryption, data encryption and hardware security policies.
- Enforce containerization of business apps and data using native OS controls.
- Monitor for malware threats or jailbroken devices and automatically remediate with a remote lock, device wipe or customizable device quarantine controls.
- Use an identity and access management solution with single-sign on (SSO) capabilities.
Reduce password pain for end users and strengthen your organizations security posture with an integrated identity and access management solution. VMware Workspace ONE combines identity and access management with UEM. This powerful combination eliminates the need for complex passwords with single sign-on (SSO), a unified app catalog and endpoint management powered by AirWatch.
This article originally appeared on the AirWatch blog.
Early this year, we all watched the legal battle between Apple and the FBI unfold about access to the iPhone 5C used in the 2015 San Bernardino massacre. The feud ended, at least temporarily, on March 28 when the FBI withdrew its case from the courts after a third-party managed to unlock the device. With no real resolution provided, additional court cases have popped up surrounding the critical issue of digital privacy, and this month, the Florida Court of Appeals ruled that the government can force an iPhone user to release the passcode to unlock his/her phone.
By Phil Poje | CEO, TechOrchard
These days, consumers of all ages are finding themselves more and more attached to their mobile devices. In fact, recent data shows that nearly 69% of Americans own a smartphone and 42% of adults own a tablet.1,2 Yet with the vast benefits of mobility come an increasing number of security concerns for users. Read on to find out if you’re a culprit of the most common mistakes mobile device users are currently making.
1. Passing on a passcode – Creating a passcode for your device is the easiest and most effective way of protecting your data. If you’ve been passing up this quick fix, stop what you’re doing and implement one on your device now.
2. Ignoring important updates – When security vulnerability is detected on an app or your operating system, developers will issue an update to resolve the issue. Many new apps in particular are released with security flaws, so it’s important to protect yourself and your data. Continue to install updates on your device over time for optimal protection.
3. Mixing business with pleasure – Because our devices often make the transition from home to work and back, many users wind up storing work-related data on an unauthorized device. Yet doing so opens both you and your company up to a data breach. With a $100,000 minimum and $1 million average cost to address, you likely don’t want this kind of mistake on your conscience.
4. Opening the unknown – Hackers are finding new ways of infiltrating mobile devices, including by sending questionable emails and texts. These messages often contain spammy links or encourage you to download risky apps from third-party app stores. If you receive something unfamiliar, just say “no” to avoid exposing your device to malware.
5. Communicating company business – With social media integrated so deeply in our lives, it can be easy to write, text or tweet sensitive information about your company without even realizing it. Though most companies have a social media policy of some type in place to avoid these issues, inadvertently sharing pertinent company data can provide a feast for competitors.
6. Going EMM commando – Many companies and their IT departments understand the critical need for addressing mobility. Yet without implementing an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution to secure employee devices, vulnerability of company data still exists. As a growing number of employees use BYOD (bring your own devices) and corporate-provided devices for business purposes, incorporating EMM in your overall mobile IT strategy is a must.
7. Engaging with public enemy #1 – When you’re out and about, it can be tempting to connect to unsecured, public Wi-Fi networks for a quick Web session. What you may not realize is that you could be giving hackers direct access to your device data if you’re not careful. Rather than selecting just any free Wi-Fi connection, be sure to use the one managed by your favorite coffee shop or restaurant to avoid giving unfriendly onlookers a pass for viewing your device goods.
Need help navigating these security pitfalls on your mobile device? Contact TechOrchard at 913.685.1475 with questions or for more information on setting up an EMM platform that meets your business’s needs.
1 comScore’s U.S. Smartphone Subscriber Market Share, March 2014.
2 Pew Research Center’s Internet Project Omnibus Survey, January 2-5, 2014.