A Home User’s Guide to Mobile Device Internet Security

Few of us maintain the same security precautions on our tablets and phones that we do on our computers. But mobile devices contain personal data, and they go wherever we do. Here’s what you need to know to keep your mobile devices protected.

In general the same security rules we use for computers also apply to phones and tablets.

  • Use the latest version of your device’s software
  • Install all software updates
  • Back up your data
  • Install only well-known apps from known developers
  • Be wary of malware disguised as legitimate apps
  • When in doubt, don’t click

You also need to use strong, secure passwords that are unique for every site, and enable two-factor authentication where possible.

It’s a good idea to configure a passcode for your mobile device. You should also enable any “Find My Device” features your phone or tablet may have. You can configure most devices to erase any data after a certain number of incorrect login attempts, which will keep your information safe should your device become lost or stolen.

Mobile devices need antivirus software just like any other computer, but watch for malware masquerading as antivirus. If you use Apple devices, you should know that there’s no antivirus available for iPhones or iPads, at least not in the traditional sense. The reasons are complex (here’s an explainer from Kaspersky Labs) but the gist is that Apple doesn’t allow antivirus scans in their sandboxed environment. However, that doesn’t mean iPads and iPhones can’t be infected! So it’s worth it to install security software for your iDevice, even if it’s not traditional antivirus per se.

Here are some suggested mobile security solutions for iOS and Android users.

That being said, no antivirus software in the world can protect you from social engineering scams. Social engineering is when scammers try to trick you into revealing information that will allow them to bypass your account security measures, such as the two-factor code from your phone or the answers to your security questions. Never give out this information to anyone!

Social engineering scams can work on any device, from your computer to your phone to your tablet, because they rely on tricking the person behind the device rather than the device itself. Remember that some threats are universal. A fake website that attempts to harvest your username and password can affect you whether you are viewing it on Windows, Mac, or any mobile device.

(This article was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated with new information.)

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