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Information Technology

Keep a secure device

Secure your device

Laptops, Smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices have become a necessary part of many people's lives. Of course, there's a great deal of convenience in having high-powered computers at our fingertips--but there are also drawbacks. With more and more of us sending texts and emails on the go, not to mention banking, shopping, and conducting other transactions, our personal information is more vulnerable than ever.


Physical protections for your device:

These protections will go a long way to safeguard your data.  

  • Create a strong passcode/password -  
    • For mobile - Turn on your passcode add a secure password of 6+ characters. Don't use a repeating code like 111111 or simple incremental code like 123456
    • Require the passcode immediately
    • Set the phone to erase after 10 failed passcode attempts are made.  
    • Don't use common words or phrases, your birthday, your kids' or pets' names, or anything else easily guessed. Choose a mix of letters (both upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols--shoot for easy to remember/hard to guess.
  • Use your device's auto-lock features.
    • Set the length of time after which the device will lock itself - Five minutes is a good estimate.
    • Ensure full disk encryption is turned on.
  • Don't share your device with others.  
    • On a laptop or desktop, you can set up multiple accounts with separate passwords, making it easy to share a device while still maintaining privacy. That's not the case with a mobile device--so it's best not to share yours with anyone.
    • As state -- create separate accounts for everyone using your laptop or home computer.   
  • Report loss or theft immediately.  
    • If you've lost a personal cell phone, report it to your carrier; if you've lost a university-owned device, report it to your supervisor or IT. You should also change any passwords for personal or financial accounts to prevent identity theft or fraud.
  • Don't broadcast your location.  
    • Many devices have a geotagging feature, which adds your location to information like photos you post or text messages you send.  

Protect your data

  • Stay in sync.  
    • Regularly sync the data on your phone to your laptop or desktop computer. If the phone is damaged or data is lost somehow, you'll have a copy at hand. Some operating systems and devices, such as Apple's iCloud service or Microsoft OneDrive offer automatic backup and data encryption.
  • Keep your device patched
    • Check with your device manufacturer on how to get the most recent bug patches or operating system updates, and make sure to install them regularly.
  • Keep security software current
    • Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  • Automate software updates
    • Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that's an available option.
  • Plug & scan
    • "USBs" and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.