Mobile Device Safety and Security

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By Nicole Dobyns, Instructional Development Services Graduate Assistant

The Department of Homeland Security sponsors Cyber Security Awareness Month in October. This month is dedicated to Internet and mobile safety. Staying safe with the Internet has become a common practice by many people. We all know to not open suspicious emails, or to not go to sites we don’t know. We’ve also been told many times to change our password often. Why do you think we all have to change our ECOM and STARS passwords after so many days? It’s a security thing!

However, with mobile safety, we don’t always look at the little things that can be unsafe. First thing that I would like to discuss is location awareness on your mobile devices. A lot of times your phone or tablet will have the location awareness turned on since that is a default setting. It is up to you to change that setting. Just be aware that certain services, such as maps or the popular application Four Square, do not work as well when location services is turned off.

Many people do not think twice before downloading an app. On Android devices, you are prompted to accept permissions from the app for it to access certain things on your phone. If you are an Android user, it is a good idea to read through these permissions before downloading an app. With Apple mobile devices, you do not get to read through the permissions of an app, but they are relatively easy to find when you are in the app store. Usually a trip to the developer’s website, and you can easily find the permissions for a particular app.

It has become common practice for QR codes to be found everywhere. It seems that everyone likes to use these handy codes to relay information from videos to calendar appointments to websites. However, if you aren’t careful these codes can be dangerous for your mobile safety. QR codes have been known to be attached to viruses or spam. Sometimes the viruses connected to these codes can access your personal information in your phone, or even send messages and other updates through your social media. If you don’t want to be a victim of this, make sure the QR code says what it is going to do before you scan it with your mobile device. Or better yet, get a scanning app that will preview the website or video for you before it opens.

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There are some simple things to think about as well when it comes to mobile safety. You do not have to answer numbers that you don’t recognize. If the caller really needs to get you some information, they can certainly leave a voicemail. Be aware that there are many credit card scams via text message too. I have received a few of these pretty recently. Remember that your bank/card issuer should never ask you for any personal information like credit card information or your social security number through a text message. If you receive a text asking for this kind of information, simply do not respond. Notify your bank/card issuer immediately if you did give out some of this information. They can usually put a stop to fraudulent uses of personal information very quickly.

Another concern is whether or not you should have a passcode on your device. The passcode helps to protect your data that can actually be stolen if you are in a public place while using your device. If you have ever lost a phone or had one stolen, you know how unnerving it can be to lose all of that information. One nice thing that Apple does for its iPhone users is an option to wipe all the data on the phone after 10 incorrect tries with the passcode. Android devices typically don’t have this, but your carrier can help you to do a hard reset on your phone if you forget your passcode. Android phones sometimes let you login to your Google account to reset passcodes if you forget it entirely.

Mobile and cyber security are hot topics right now. People are connected in many different ways. It is hard to keep up with all the safety, but it still important to keep all of your devices safe. Keeping your devices secure not only helps you, but anyone that has been connected to you through your mobile devices. If you have any questions with the above information please call us 309-298-3076 or stop by the Interactive Multimedia Lab in Horrabin Hall 104 for one-on-one help.

TechTip

By Amanda Richards, Instructional Development Services Lab Assistant

One way to secure your privacy with mobile devices is to turn off your location services.

Image from: http://icanstalku.com/how.php

iPhone:

In order to turn location services off on an iPhone you go into Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Off

If you want to use location services for applications such as Maps and foursquare you can leave the location services on and go through each individual app and turn off their access to Location Services.

Android:

Image from http://icanstalku.com/how.php

In order to turn location services off on an Android phone press the Menu Key > Settings > Location and Security

By default, Use GPS satellites are on. Uncheck the box to turn it off.  This will end location based information for all applications. This includes location services for legitimate uses such as Maps.  If you choose to turn your GPS off whenever you need to use your navigation application you will have to go back into settings and turn GPS on.


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