New Phone or Tablet? How to Secure Your New Devices

Security & Privacy, Tips & Tricks

This will be only the ninth Christmas when you could receive a full touchscreen smartphone as a gift but smartphone penetration has already reached 81 percent in the UK. But every year people are using phones less for talking and more for the internet-connected features. Over 30 percent of users say they make no calls on their devices in a week – that’s up from 4 percent in 2012. And the two-thirds of adults who have access to a tablet in the UK are definitely doing a ton of connecting to the internet.

Mikko Hypponen — F-Secure’s Chief Research Officer – recently coined “Hypponen’s Law”, which states: “Whenever an appliance is described as being ‘smart’, it’s vulnerable.”

Yes, your phone is smart – but it’s also vulnerable. Thus so are you. That’s why you should start thinking about security from the moment you unbox your latest digital treasure.

Here are a few steps you should take to protect your new devices:

Use a strong passcode/password
Obviously, you should pick a passcode to lock your phone that can’t be guessed, even by someone who knows you. So don’t use your birth year, your address or 1234. Better yet, use a password or a passphrase. And make sure it’s one you don’t use anywhere else.

And always use a unique, uncrackable password for all of your important accounts
We’re going to repeat this one because it’s so important: NEVER reuse the passwords you use for your important accounts – especially your email accounts. Let’s say you’re one of the approximately one billion users who had your Yahoo account breached recently. If you’re using that same password for any other account, it may be vulnerable – even if you don’t even remember that you ever had a Yahoo account! Using a password manager makes this much easier. F-Secure KEY is free on one device.

Use official apps whenever possible and delete apps you’re not using
Instead of using your browser to access Facebook or Twitter, use the apps for these sites, which have built-in encryption technology. And stick to the official stores of your mobile platform and check user reviews to make sure the apps you’re downloading are safe.

Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you aren’t using them
Both of these connection protocols make it easier to track you. So protect your privacy and preserve your battery. Keep them off unless you know you’re using them.

Write down your new phone’s IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity)
If your smartphone is ever stolen and you ask the police to help find it, they will likely ask for your IMEI. It’s unique to your phone (or 3G/4G tablets) and you can likely find it on the phone’s box, battery or in its settings.

Set up your photos and videos to back up automatically
Either use the service your mobile platform offers or a third-party so you don’t have to worry about losing the contents of your device, which will soon be more valuable than the device itself.

Put security software on all your new devices
Up-to-date security software is a must on all your devices. F-Secure SAFE not only protects all of your PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets it includes features like Network Checker, which silently verifies if your Internet connection is safe whether you’re at home or on a Wi-Fi network, and Browsing and Banking Protection that keeps you from landing on fake banking sites built to steal your private information. SAFE also offers Family Protection so you can set the same sort of digital boundaries for your kids that you set in the real world. And if you plan to use your device on public Wi-Fi — and who doesn’t — or care about being tracked on the internet, consider a VPN like our Freedome. Or consider F-Secure Total — which brings together security and privacy protection.

[Image by Laura Bittner | Flickr]

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