The Basics of At-Home Mobile Device Security
Mobile devices have never been more important than right now. Personal laptops, phones, and tablets are the reason that so much of the workforce has successfully transitioned to remote work from home. For those who were not already equipped to work at home, companies began shipping laptops and phones so that their teams could connect safely.
Cybersecurity for At-Home Work Devices
In the logistical swirl of rebuilding an all-remote or hybrid workflow, it’s also vital to remember your cybersecurity. Encryption, network securing, and safe file sharing are even more necessary than before and each employee needs to be a contributing part of the team to keep the shared online workspaces safe. But there’s one layer of cybersecurity that most businesses overlook when walking remote workers through firewall setup – shared home devices.
At-home devices are much more likely to be borrowed by family for gaming and incautious web browsing. Devices will be accessed, played with, absconded with, lost, and explored without permission. From young children to mischevious roommates, there is always a possibility that home devices will be snooped and that lingering logins will be accessed. At-home professionals need to take special precautions to secure their at-home devices.
Here are the eight most important security basics for at-home work devices:
Password-Protect Your Devices
Passwords are essential for both physical and digital device security. Put passwords on everything, especially your phone lock screen.
Make a Real Password
Design a password that is not easy to guess and does not conform to the rules of spelling. Include at least one transposed number, letter, or symbol. Use at least one capital letter. We suggest making your password an acronym for a phrase that’s easy to remember.
Biometrics are pass-credentials like your fingerprint, eye-scan, or face image. Biometrics are the most reliable two-factor authentication method when you need to be precise and live with people who might know your passwords.
Secure the Home Wifi Network
Every home mobile device connects to your home wifi network. First, ensure your connection to the world wide web is encrypted at the router. Then go through the proper steps to secure your wifi signal so that neighbors can’t tune in and your traveling data is encrypted at every step in the process. This ensures that work data is not accessed and read while it is in transit through the network.
Automatically Log Out of Important Apps
You may not care if your child accesses your Yelp account on your phone. You would probably prefer that they stick to a YouTube account you can monitor. But kids, spouses, and roommates do not need constant access to your work apps. Make sure your most important and work-related applications close themselves with an idle time-out and require a new password or bio-scan every time the phone is woken up.
Don’t Use a Password Manager
Password managers are programs that hold all your passwords along with what accounts they are for. Consider how insecure this is if a hacker (or roommate) accesses this one program file: they will have all your passwords in one go. Password managers are bad ideas because they are not 100% secure and can be hacked. Put in the extra effort to make memorable passwords and remember them.
Tip: If you need an account-to-password reminder, keep a record of cryptic hints instead of actual passwords.
Take Extra Measures to Protect Work Apps
Consider the apps that are most important and need to be the most secure. The usual phone or laptop security routine may be sufficient for most apps, but it’s worth taking extra precautions for the programs that require the most security. Make sure to log all the way out. Double-check to ensure your work is saved and closed. Build a particularly strong password for your work logins. Make a habit of sparing your work security an extra thought when you close or put down your devices.
Prepare for Shared Devices
Devices at home are also much more likely to be shared than devices at work or solely for work. Even a laptop sent by an employer is likely to be used – at some point – for a family member to play games or a roommate to order takeout, at minimum.
Default to Screen Lock
Set your devices to idle-out to a lock screen and to return from sleep each time at the lock-screen. This is the best possible way to prevent accidental access to your devices by friends and relatives. While this won’t stop relatives who know your password, it gives you a chance to implement the next strategy:
Setup Multiple Device Accounts
Give your family and/or roommates separate logins. You can have one separate login for guests or assign a new account for each person who regularly uses your phone or laptop. This way, you can allow devices to be public use when it’s convenient without putting your work logins and security at risk.
Regularly Clean Your Device
Keeping your devices clean of malware and trash files is important for both performance speed and device security. By cleaning your device regularly with a virus checker and other methods, you can ensure that casual use resulting in chance malware does not become a problem. Everyone picks up a few trackers and bugs along the way, shaking them off regularly is key.
Restart the Device Weekly
Restarting your device clears out many temporary files and allows it to reclaim any lost processor power. Apps that have been left open will close and accounts with pending activities will reset. Do this at least once a week no matter how constantly the device is in use.
Uninstall Everything You Don’t Use
Go through your apps or programs and uninstall every program you don’t use or need for the operating system. This will lighten your device, make it run better, and potentially remove malware disguised as a legitimate app.
Run a Cleaning Program – Virus Scanning and Temp Folders
Pick a virus scanning program and run it regularly. These tend to scan and delete suspicious files, trackers, and also clear out your temp files that may be cluttering the device or lurking to assist malware.
Delete Old Files and Programs
Go through all your own downloads, photos, and other files that you have put into folders on the device. Clear out anything you don’t remember or don’t need anymore and store anything you want to save.
Prepare for Lost or Stolen Devices
Finally, have a plan in case a device used for work is stolen. When a device with secure access or data is missing, it’s important to always consider the possibility that it is now in the hands of a hacker. Also that it might be between the couch cushions.
Lost at Home: Alarm App
Start with a lost-at-home plan. Install an app that can be triggered remotely to make your device emit a loud beep, music, or a funny message. All you need is a distinct remote-operable sound that overrides any silent or vibrate settings.
Install a GPS Finder App
Next, install a GPS finder app like Find My and similar products. These allow you to access the GPS location of a device from another device on the same account. The GPS locator can let you know if A) the device was left at a friend’s house or is still at the laundromat lost-and-found, B) the device is actually still in your house, or C) the device is halfway across town at the theif’s home address or favorite hangout.
Either retrieve your located device or report its location to the authorities.
Setup a Remote Kill Switch
Lastly, install a kill-switch if it’s possible that a hacker could access secured information through your device. A kill-switch is like a remote finder app, only it bricks your device or otherwise renders it inoperable with a remote command. This way, a stolen device can’t be hacked whether or not you get it back in time.
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