Handheld devices such as iOS and Android devices are wildly popular – so popular that it’s easy to forget these devices are actually powerful mini-computers containing large amounts of personal information.

It’s important to secure your handheld device so that your digital life is well-protected. A few simple steps will help ensure you don’t lose data, allow attackers to control your e-mail, or inadvertently provide access to personal information.

Set a password or PIN

Setting a password or PIN on your device is an excellent way to prevent someone else from using it or accessing the information you’ve stored on it. Pick a password that’s hard to guess (don’t use something simple such as aaa or 12345) but easy to type on your device’s keyboard or screen.  Consider a password with at least six characters.

Enable the screen’s auto-lock function

Most devices can be set to require a password that disables operation if they are inactive for a while. For example, once your device has been idle 10 minutes, you must enter a password before you can use it again. This prevents someone from picking it up and using it without your knowledge.  

Encrypt the contents

Protect your data from being stolen and viewed by attackers by encrypting the contents of your handheld. Encryption prevents someone from reading the contents of files, even if they find a way to download them without your knowledge. NOTE: If your device contains any Level III sensitive data, you are required by university policy to encrypt the data.

Delete unnecessary information              

You can minimize your risk of losing important data by deleting information you no longer need on your handheld. This would include e-mail attachments, downloads from websites, and files you transported between computers via your handheld. By only having the least amount of data on your device, you will have less personal or important information to worry about should you lose your handheld.

Only download applications you trust

Be very careful what programs you download to your device. Only use applications from trusted vendors, and be skeptical of free programs from the Internet. Some free programs can harm your device, steal your data, or even infect your desktop computer when you connect via USB.

Keep your software up to date

You should check for updates for your handheld regularly. Your device may have a software update application, or you may need to download the software to your computer and install it via USB to your handheld. By installing the latest software, you not only get the newest applications for your device, you also get the latest security updates to better protect your information. Consult your wireless provider’s website for update instructions and downloads.

Be careful where you connect

If your device can be used on wireless networks, be careful of unsecured wireless access points. Treat your handheld just as you would a laptop. If you are using an unsecured wireless network, your wireless signals can be intercepted and inspected.

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September 24, 2021