Tech Terms: mobile security best practices

Mobile security best practices are recommended guidelines and safeguards for protecting mobile devices and the sensitive data contained on them. Mobile security best practices apply to mobile devices used in business environments as well as for personal use, and the guidelines are largely the same in either scenario.

10 Mobile Security Best Practices
Some of the most common mobile security best practices include:

  1. User Authentication: Restricting access to the device by requiring user authentication. Most mobile devices can be locked with a screen lock, password or personal identification number (PIN), but these measures are typically turned off by default. By requiring authentication before a mobile device can be accessed, the data on the device is protected in case of accidental loss or theft of the mobile device. Ensure the use of a powerful password in order to make it more difficult for a potential thief to access the device.
  2. Update Your Mobile OS with Security Patches. Keep the mobile operating system and its apps up to date. Mobile operating systems like Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android platform and Microsoft’s Windows Phone provide regular updates to users that resolve security vulnerabilities and other mobile security threats, as well as provide additional security and performance options and features to users. These upgrades aren’t always updated automatically, so mobile devices users may need to turn on automatic updates or update their phones and apps manually on a regular basis.
  3. Regularly Back Up Your Mobile Device. Ensure the mobile device’s data is regularly backed up. By backing up a device to another hard drive or to the cloud, the data can be restored in the event the device gets damaged or is lost or stolen. A backup utility or app that runs automatically on a specified schedule is recommended for keeping the backed-up data as current as possible.
  4. Utilize Encryption. Utilize encryption for data stored on the phone as well as for data in transit with secure technologies such as VPN. It’s also a mobile security best practice to never transmit sensitive or personal information over a public Wi-Fi spot, especially one that is unsecured, without using a secure transmission option like VPN.
  5. Enable Remote Data Wipe as an Option. Ensure a remote data wipe option is available on the device and that users know how to utilize it in case the device is stolen or lost. Apple’s Find My iPhone app, for example, offers a remote data wiping option in addition to the ability to find the iPhone if it’s lost.
  6. Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth When Not Needed. Limit the potential for access by hackers through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth by disabling these connectivity options when not needed.
  7. Don’t Fall for Phishing Schemes. Avoid potential phishing schemes and malware threats by avoiding clicking on links or opening e-mail attachments from untrusted sources, as they may be from a fraudulent source masquerading as a friend or legitimate company.
  8. Avoid All Jailbreaks. Ensure that the phone remains locked down as opposed to being jailbroken. While jailbreaking a smartphone can enable the user to run unverified or unsupported apps, many of these apps carry security vulnerabilities. In fact, the majority of security exploits for Apple’s iOS only affect jailbroken iPhones. 
  9. Add a Mobile Security App. Research and select a reputable mobile security app that extends the built-in security features of the device’s mobile operating system. Well-known third-party security vendors such as Lookout, Avast, Kaspersky, Symantec and Qihu offer mobile security apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
  10. Communicate Your Mobile Security Best Practices. In enterprise and small business environments, it’s vital for IT staff to ensure the company’s policies and mobile security best practices are clearly communicated to employees so that they are aware of what to do and what not to do in terms of protecting the security of their mobile devices and their data. In addition to explaining best practices, this communication should also include which apps, BYOD and BYOC solutions are permitted in the work environment and which aren’t allowed for use.

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