Problems with portability
Portability has its own particular security implications for your device and data:
- The smaller and more portable your device, the more easily it can get lost, damaged or stolen.
- Your data can be intercepted if you connect to insecure or rogue wifi networks.
- Portable devices can get hacked and pick up viruses and other malware just like any other computer.
- You are more exposed to ‘shoulder surfing’ – always check no one's looking over your shoulder or earwigging any confidential conversations.
Simply keeping your wits about you will go a long way to protecting your devices as you move around. For the rest, check out the advice below.
Securing your smartphone or tablet
Phones get dropped. Pockets get picked. Tablets get left on bus seats. Accidents and mishaps happen. But there are things you can do to protect your data even if your device gets broken, lost or stolen:
Always set a password/PIN-protected lock-screen to come on automatically when you are not using your device. Ideally, change the default settings so you can use a longer PIN or passphrase. And if your device has fingerprint ID or other advanced security, use that. On smartphones, encryption is often also enabled automatically when you set up a password/PIN (though do check the user guide for your model).
Set your device to ‘erase data’ and/or lock if the wrong password is entered too many times.
Set up a ‘remote wipe’ feature if one is available for your device. If your device is lost or stolen, this will enable you to erase your personal data remotely.
Make sure you have a master copy saved somewhere else of any documents you carry or edit on your mobile device.
Install security updates to your device and the apps you have on it. This helps protect the operating system from the latest malware.
Don't be tempted to ‘jailbreak’ your device. What your mobile device can access and download is deliberately limited to reduce your exposure to malware, so overriding these restrictions is not recommended.
Only install apps from trusted locations. In practice, this means only using the app store which came with your device - this will be Apple Store, Google Play or Microsoft Store. There may be other stores available for your device, especially in your home country if you don't live in the UK or US. If these are large and reputable they are probably safe to use, but you should still be careful when it comes to any app which asks for sensitive data such as passwords or credit card details. It goes without saying that you should never use any app store which offers free (pirated) copies of popular apps - they're frequently loaded with malware.