Information Technology Services (ITS)

Securing Smart Phones and Tablet Devices

Published on: January 31, 2013

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Smartphones and tablet devices are storing more and more information with each new model.  It is important to ensure that you are protecting what is possibly sensitive personal information stored on your phone.   The steps you follow to secure your smartphone or tablet device will differ depending on which device you have, but there are some general principles that should be followed.

  1. Encryption:  You should enable encryption on your device if possible.  If your device does not support encryption, it should not be used for email / confidential information.
  2. PIN / Passcode – Locking your device with a PIN or passcode is essential to protecting information should it go missing or be stolen.
  3. Updates – Make sure that you have the latest software updates installed on your device.
  4. Services – There are a number of services running on your device that could possibly be exploited, giving access to confidential information.  It is recommended that any non-essential services (such as Bluetooth and Wifi) be turned off.  Only follow the instructions in this section if you are not using these services.
  5. Backups – Make sure that you are regularly backing up your device.
  6. Recovery – Some manufacturers have tools available to their users that can help in the event that their phone is lost or stolen.  These tools include being able to locate your phone and/or remotely wipe the content on the phone.

In addition to these six basic principles, “jailbreaking” (the process of circumventing a device’s operating system to gain full access to the device) is highly discouraged.  Jailbreaking your device can open up your phone or tablet to software that has not been properly checked for corrupt code.

Review the document that covers these basic steps for each of the four main operating platforms available: iOS (including iPhones and iPads), BlackBerry OS (including BlackBerry phones and the Playbook tablet), Android OS (including both phones and tablet devices) and Windows 7 Phones.