Countermeasures

Similar to securing desktops, servers, networks, and other equipment, you can take some basic steps to make mobile devices more resistant to attacks. What’s included here is some basic guidance but not a comprehensive list of all that can be done:

  • Setting passwords on all mobile devices is a requirement for all devices that will be attached to a corporate network and/or store sensitive data. It is worth noting that enabling certain features such as encryption will require the setting of a password before they will work.
  • Strong passwords are recommended on all devices. This step is of particular importance because many mobile devices allow you to use methods to unlock the device other than passwords. Many devices allow you to set PIN codes, gestures, and regular alphanumeric passwords.
  • Install antimalware applications to thwart the spread and infection of malware. Ideally, the antimalware application should scan not only the device but also newly installed applications and email for maximum effect.
  • Use encryption on all devices wherever possible to protect both internal storage and SD cards. This is an essential part of protecting data on a device in the event that it is lost or stolen. Note that some older devices and older operating systems do not support encryption.
  • Ensure that your device is always current with the latest software updates. This can be problematic because devices that are subsidized by wireless companies such as AT&T do not always get the latest updates until long after they are released. Such is the case with subsidized devices that run Android; Google will release updates to the system, but providers may not release them to their users for up to a year or more.
  • Avoid installing applications from unknown sources. Not all apps that can be installed on a device must come from Google or Apple; many can be downloaded from various websites. While many of these applications are legitimate, others may contain malware or cause other issues.
  • Back up the device regularly. Do we really need to say more on this topic?
  • Avoid rooting or jailbreaking a device. While it may seem attractive to get more power and control over a device, doing so introduces security risks.
  • Enable remote wipes if possible. This feature, if available, should be enabled on devices that contain sensitive data and are susceptible to being lost or stolen.
  • Verify applications before downloading. Some apps could be harmful to your mobile device, either by carrying malware or by directing you to a malicious website that may collect your sensitive information.
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