Tips on Using Mobile Devices

Nowadays, smartphones and tablet computers are very popular in our everyday lives. Instead of completing the tasks of traditional personal computers, we keep much more personal information in these handheld devices. So it is very critical to deal with the security concerns of them. Here are some tips:

  1. Do not jailbreak your mobile devices

  2. Jailbreaking is the process of removing the limitations on devices running the manufacturers’ standard operating systems through the use of software and hardware exploits. Jailbreaking permits root access to the device operating system hence allowing the download of additional applications, extensions, and themes that are unavailable through the official app stores. The major reason for jailbreaking is to expand the feature set limited by the manufacturers; nevertheless this also exposes your devices to hackers.

  3. Enable the screen lock, with biometric-security (if available) or password

  4. As a first line of defense, the screen lock tries to avoid unauthorized access to your device when it is unattended or even stolen. Other screen lock mechanisms (e.g. unlock patterns, numbers only passcode) may have the same function but they are relatively easier to be infiltrated. Examples of screen locks are shown below:

    iOS screen lock Android screen lock
  5. Encrypt your device if there is such function

  6. When all the information is encrypted, the information inside cannot be accessed, even in case the device is got stolen.

    iOS enable encryption Android enable encryption
  7. Enable the remote locate, lock and wipe function

  8. When your device is misplaced or got stolen, you can try to locate it remotely, or lock the device from unauthorized access, and even wipe all the data as a last resort.

    iOS: How to wipe an iOS device remotely
    Android: Locate and wipe an Android device

  9. Backup your device periodically

  10. Contacts, documents, photos and chat history... etc can be backed up to a PC, removable storage card (if your device supports that), or in the cloud.

    For iOS devices: How to back up and restore your content
    For Samsung devices: Using Kies for Samsung devices
    For Sony devices: Using PC Companion for Sony devices
    For LG devices: Using LG PC Suite for LG devices

  11. Install apps from trusted sources only

  12. When you are going to download an app, you should conduct some research in advance. Try to check for any reviews, check for its official website from the app store link to make sure if the app is legitimate and safe to be used.

    Google Play and App Store

  13. Understand the permissions required before install an app

  14. Don’t just keep pressing “OK” or “Accept” when installing an app. Pay attention to the permissions required (e.g. if the app has to access your phone book, camera, or internal storage), make sure you understand why the app has to access such information before accepting its requirements.


    iOS app permission Android app permission

  15. Keep the OS of your handheld devices most up-to-date

  16. By enabling the automatic update function of your device, the operating system software should be updated by the device manufacturer from time to time. An up-to-date OS is more resistance to security threats and vulnerabilities.


    iOS versions Android versions
  17. Reset your device and wipe all the data before you pass the device to someone else

  18. As there are many personal information in your device, you should wipe all the data and reset the device to the factory state before dispose or resell it.

    iOS reset device Android reset device
  19. Beware of open WiFi networks

  20. When you online through an open WiFi network, beware that all the information you access through this network is not secured. It can be retrieved by the other users on the same WiFi network. Pay extra attention when you are asked for account or login information

csc@cityu.edu.hk