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Securing a Tablet for Web Browsing

January 4, 2013 – Internet on the go has finally become a reality with today’s mobile technology. Whether you’re checking email at the coffee shop or taking a quick conference call at the beach, tablets make it easy to stay entertained and productive virtually anywhere life takes you.

Beware though. Taking your tablet online can make you vulnerable to an assortment of internet dangers, including identity theft and hackers. This is especially true if you’re taking advantage of a public hotspot rather than your home network. Follow these simple steps to ensure safe and secure browsing no matter where you are.

1. Use 3G rather than free WiFi

Wireless hotspots are often unsecured, leaving your information within sniffing reach of anyone within range of joining the network. Even encrypted WiFi connections can make your data accessible to the other guests around you. A 3G or 4G data plan is the best option for security, but not all mobile services are unlimited. The next few tips will minimize your risks when you do connect through a public network.

2. Use a VPN

Virtual private networks (VPN) are available through many mobile service providers. Featuring multiple layers of encryption, a VPN offers a secure way to surf the web without compromising your sensitive data. A VPN may also include additional features, such as remote desktop access to safely and conveniently access and transfer files between your home and work networks.

3. Be selective with your browsing

If you are not using a VPN, it’s important to use caution when you’re surfing the web using a WiFi hotspot. Websites with https addresses (rather than just http) are encrypted for better security. Make sure your email server uses this encryption throughout your session to keep snooping eyes out of your inbox. Save sensitive activities like banking or shopping for home if you can.

4. Keep your device secure

Hopefully, everyone understands the importance of protecting your tablet from physical thieves. You should have a strong PIN code or passphrase to prevent unauthorized access, and follow Naked Security’s advice on how to protect your phone or tablet from thieves.

But be aware of the others ways criminals could access your data or tablet’s resources.

Whether you’re connecting over a 3G network or a public hotspot, a good security app can prevent many headaches. These apps are similar to computer security software and can help protect your device from malware, as well as other online mishaps.

5. Download from trusted sources

Even when you’re browsing over a secure network, certain types of websites can pose threats to the security of your tablet. Some sites may attempt to download files to your device that could collect information or damage your existing files. Downloading apps from third-party sources can put your device at risk as well. Stick to trusted app stores such as the iOS App Store, Google Play and the Amazon App Store.

Historically, the official marketplaces have been suffered less from malicious apps than the third-party unofficial stores.

6. Keep your OS and apps up-to-date

Keeping your tablet and its software up to date is the best way to protect yourself as well as your device. System upgrades are particularly important because many of these updates contain vital security fixes. Running a previous version of the operating system can open your device up to even more dangers, especially hackers. Be sure to keep your apps up to date as well. Many have access to a great deal of information.

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The Known Issues Page is a checkpoint for our IT partners across campus. The page lists software compatibility issues and known fixes.