If your workplace provides you with mobile devices for keeping in touch on the go, they are likely to be loaded-up with plenty of security to keep it safe. Anti-virus software aside, Tim Stackpool explains extra fundamental ways of keeping your own personal devices just as secure.
- Do not use the same User ID and password for different services
While it might be difficult to remember different passwords for various sites and services that you might use, having the same password for various logins is a sure-fire way of getting hacked. While a hacker might not target you directly in the first instance, they certainly do attempt to steal any database of usernames and passwords from many online services. It is happening constantly. Smaller lesser-known services (such as the local florist or bakery) are particularly vulnerable as their security might be less than desirable. If you have a login for such a service, and that service gets hacked, then the bad guys immediately have your credentials, and will attempt to use them to gain access to your accounts at more popular online services, such as social media or internet banking sites.
- Use a Password Manager
Having to use a different password for every login makes it almost impossible to remember them all, especially when they must contain a capital letter, a number, a symbol and have at least 8 characters. But using a password manager, for example, not only means you do not have to remember every single one, but the manager can also generate random passwords, using all sorts of character combinations, that bear no resemblance to anything considered language. Having the password manager installed on your mobile device, and your laptop or PC, allows it to monitor your logins and then suggests or makes changes to your existing passwords as you wander across the internet. This means making all your logins secure over time is less tedious. You will, however, have to remember one master password for the password manager, but most also allow you to log into the manager using the biometric (fingerprint) sensor on your phone, making it even easier. Examples of password managers include LASTPASS and 1PASSWORD.
- Enable Two Factor Authentication
Two Factor Authentication (2FA) is a system that kicks-in when you log into a service from a location or device that is new or unknown to that particular service. While your username and password represent “single factor authentication”, 2FA when enabled, subsequently sends an alert to your phone or email address, indicating that a “stranger” login has occurred. Unless you confirm that it is in fact you that is logging-in, the system generally kicks-out the stranger unless otherwise advised by that second factor of authentication. As the authentic user, this can be a tedious process, particularly if you are in a hurry to access the service. But considering the larger picture, 2FA can slow down a hacking attempt, and give you time to re-secure your account before significant damage can be done.
- Keep the Operating System Up to Date
There is a good reason why system update notifications keep bugging you on your device. Generally, these are released when a security vulnerability has been identified. Whether you use an iPhone or Android device, have anti-virus software installed or not, it is most important to allow your device to install the update as soon as possible after receiving the notification. The vulnerabilities that are subsequently ‘patched’ would already be well known to hackers, so it is merely a race to see who gets to your device first. Make yourself the winner by undertaking that update before the hackers find their way in.
The Expert – Tim Stackpool is the technology writer for Executive PA Media and speaks
at conferences and trade shows about technology’s impact on work and lifestyle