Security for Mobile and Other Handheld Devices

Small businesses often use mobile devices like cell phones and tablets to conduct business. These days a vast array of handheld devices are available that contain WiFi or wireless connectivity options. Of course with these devices comes a new, sometimes unique set of security concerns. It's important that you consider the safety of your information on all of the devices used by you and your associates.

Here are some tips that apply to all kinds of mobile and handheld devices:

  • Turn devices and accessories off when they're not in use. Bluetooth is a great example of a technology that is better left off when not in use. 
  • Don't use a charger that doesn't belong to you. Cables used for charging look simple enough, but they can actually be modified with microcomputers that can grab information.
  • Keep the system and software up to date. Updates often fix known security issues, so not updating can leave you vulnerable.
  • Use "bumping" wisely. If you're going to transfer information from your device to someone else's, make sure you understand the technology first. Know what information will be shared and what security measures are taken.
  • Use the location feature sparingly. If an application asks for access to the GPS system on your device, considered whether it's really necessary for the application to do what you need it to. If not, deny the request.
  • Use the auto-lock and password features. If you do leave your device unattended, an automatic lock can protect you. Setting it to lock after a few minutes is advisable.
  • Physically protect devices. One of the worst-case scenarios is that someone steals a device altogether and has access to all of the information on it. Be mindful of the whereabouts of all of your devices. Carrying them in a holster or the same place all the time can help.
  • If available, register for a service like Apple's "Find My iPhone" that lets you lock, track, and erase devices. If a device does get into the wrong hands, this can save you a lot of additional problems.  
  • Dispose of devices properly. In order to make sure that no information on the device can be recovered, you'll need to completely clear the device.

The rewards of using mobile and handheld devices can be great, just make sure they are not overshadowed by the risks. Use these devices as safely as possible.