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Tim Cline, ITS Information Security OfficeIn a guest post for National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Tim Cline, Information Security Specialist with Information Technology Services, shares five key tips for keeping your mobile devices secure.

There are a couple of truisms about IT devices: IT devices have become increasingly faster and increasingly smaller. And along with new developments in computing ability and the decrease in their size, there’s another constant you can rely on: there will be malware that you will need to protect your devices from.

Here are five fave tips for keeping your mobile devices secure:

  1. Patch, patch, patch: Make sure your mobile device operating system and your apps have current patches AND that they are configured to download new patches when available and then to either install the new patches or prompt you to.
  1. Use passwords that are strong and unique. Strong: either use a password-phrase generator to make your strong passwords easier to remember or employ a mixture of upper- and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Passwords for your most important accounts (banks and health care providers) should be greater in length than other passwords. Unique: do not use the same password for more than one account; do not use a pattern that could be guessed. If a hacker gets your password, he also has access to any account that password or password-pattern gives him access to. If your mobile device has one, get a password manager.
  1. Be wary of using unencrypted public-access wireless networks such as are available in hotels, coffee shops, airports, etc. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to sites that contain your sensitive or confidential information, such as your bank or your health care provider. AnyConnect by Cisco should be available in your app store.
  1. Recognize the difference between websites that offer encrypted transmissions between your device and their site and those that don’t. Encrypted website addresses begin with https:// and will feature an icon representing a closed padlock somewhere in the browser bar. Unencrypted sites, by contrast, begin with “http”. Do NOT conduct transactions with unencrypted sites where you have to transmit a password, credit card or other sensitive personal information.
  1. How many apps do you need? Make sure you know what your apps do. Search the Web to find information about the app, its manufacturer, how it works and whether it accesses (and shares) data from your mobile device.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Visit ITS News throughout October for posts offering cyber security advice from experts and other tech tips. For additional cyber security tips and to check out the activities and resources associated with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, visit the national campaign’s website.

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