Tips for Tablet Security

5 Nov 2014 Ian Kelly    Last updated: 7 Nov 2014

Mobile computing use and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is becoming more popular in the workplace, here are some basic tips to secure and protect your data at minimal cost.

For Employers:

There are many MDM (Mobile Device Management) applications or services out there, but prohibitive by cost and limitations imposed on devices in the workplace, and in most cases these can be devices owned by an employee being used for work purposes, that really wouldn’t be fair! If you have a BYOD policy and allow employees to use their devices for work, giving them access to secure company data, internal networks etc. then you should at least offer some basic advice on how to secure these and ensure that your data integrity is not compromised. These tips are based on an Apple iPad device as it will inevitably be the most commonly used operating system but the same principles apply to Android and others.

  1. Set a PIN. Basic, but essential and sometimes overlooked. Go one step further and make it a 5 digit passcode by disabling ‘simple passcode’ in settings.
  2. Use the ‘Find My iPad’ app. Ensure this and location services are enabled in the settings. This will allow a remote wipe if the device is lost or stolen. For other devices and iOS, check out www.preyproject.com for a free alternative.
  3. Enable ‘Self-Destruct’ mode. OK so it’s actually not as cool a name as this, but you can have the device wipe itself if the wrong passcode is entered more than 10 times. (Option ‘Erase Data’ on the passcode lock section of General settings)
  4. Using Exchange 2010 or greater? If email for exchange is setup on the device, your IT administrator now has the ability to remote wipe that device as and when needed.
  5. For remote working, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to connect to the office network from outside. This network traffic will be secure from hacking.
  6. Install updates. Not always as soon as they are available but wait a few days to see if any issues have come up with others, it can be difficult to revert back.
  7. Cover it! You have spent quite a bit of money on state of the art tech, protect it. Tablets look the part and are built to high specifications, but one knock from a small height and it’s at least a £100 repair bill for a new screen.

When next going through your organisation’s policies, ensure you put some thought into your BYOD policy. This isn’t a craze which will go away, it will always be an issue and like any policy it is better to be prepared before any eventuality rather than after.

 

For Parents:

Most of the above information still applies and should be heeded, but if you are a parent of a child from 1 year plus, you will already know that they are born with the instinct of how to operate an iPad or iPhone. The OS was built with the mind-set of being simple enough that a child could operate it and they succeeded. I would first of all say that where possible, don’t let a child play with an iPad, but as a parent myself I know how unavoidable this can be.
For peace of mind, a few simple steps will secure your device, your bank account and your child from being exposed to something they shouldn’t.

  1. As above, set a PIN. (Don’t tell the kids what it is!)
  2. Enable ‘Find My iPad’ app
  3. DON’T enable ‘Self-Destruct’ mode. Kids will try your PIN many times before realising they don’t know what numbers are in the first place.
  4. Get a rugged cover, children have no idea of the expense of their new "toy".
  5. Backup your data regularly, or at least enable the iCloud backup.
  6. Restrictions. Under ‘Settings’ – ‘General’ – ‘Restrictions’ use the switches to disable actions such as:
    “Deleting Apps” and “In-App Purchases” (Very useful)
    “Movies” (Restrict by rating etc)
    “Allow Game Invites” and “Find Me By Email” Disabling will stop any requests from strangers
  7. Install some age-appropriate, educational games, to keep them occupied and out of the things they shouldn’t be in.
  8. Buy a cheap tablet for the kids to play with instead.
The opinions, views or comments in this article do not necessarily reflect any views or policies of NICVA.
by Ian Kelly

Systems Administrator

[email protected]

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