By Kate Hunger
It’s no secret that shiny new mobile phones and tablets will be high on many wish lists this holiday season. Protecting the devices you and your loved ones unwrap is one resolution that shouldn’t be too hard to keep, thanks to tips from the USAA Security Center.
Don’t leave your tablet or phone vulnerable. Keep it secure with a passcode, PIN or biometrics, says Robert MacDonald, a USAA security advisor.
“One of the challenges with security is convenience versus security,” he says. “Biometrics helps to make that experience less of a hassle.”
Operating systems, applications and devices cycle out of date fairly rapidly. Making sure to update your operating system — and your device when it no longer supports operating system updates — means you will benefit from security patches created to fix known vulnerabilities, MacDonald says. Even if you just purchased a device, don’t assume it uses the most current operating system or will for very long.
“It’s more critical when you are dealing with apps that handle financial transactions and medical and health information,” he says. “You should always check. When you get a new device, you don’t know when that device was packaged.”
Never store your passwords on your device, and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and profiles.
Consider using a password phrase rather than a hard-to-remember string of letters and numbers, MacDonald says.
“That helps ensure you have strong passwords,” he says.
Although it’s tempting to jump on free public wireless while out and about, be aware that you could be an open book to fraudsters looking for a target.
“People can eavesdrop on the traffic and a lot of things go over the Wi-Fi network unencrypted, so you have to be very cautious about it,” MacDonald explains. “They could be sitting in the parking lot where you don’t even see them.”
Encrypt your device’s data whenever possible. Some operating systems encrypt automatically and others offer it as an option. If yours does, use it. Back up your data in case you decide to remotely wipe your device’s data because of a possible lost device.
Likewise, be picky about permissions and which applications you allow to share your location settings, camera, contacts and other information. Don’t share more than necessary.
Check notification settings. If your device falls into the hands of someone with bad intentions, don’t make it easy for them to see sensitive notifications on your screen.
Safety guidelines are not intended to be all inclusive, but are provided for your consideration. Please use your own judgment to determine what safety features/procedures should be used in each unique situation.
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