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By Tony Larks, Vice President, Global Consumer Marketing, Trend Micro
The long awaited iPad Mini from Apple has arrived. The iPad has already won the hearts and minds of tech enthusiasts everywhere and is the market leader by far in the tablet space with around 70% of the pie (Q2 IDC). However, the launch of the Mini could catapult Apple’s success in the mobile computing space to even greater heights and the lower starting price for the “7 incher” could encourage users who’ve never owned a tablet before to get involved.It’s probably as good a time as any, then, to highlight a few tablet security basics to make sure that your next investment in a shiny new mobile gadget doesn’t end up being one to regret.
Tablets may be thin and light but they have more computing power than most PCs of a few years ago. Connecting to email, websites and social networks via these devices will expose you to the same risks as you would encounter surfing via an Internet-connected smartphone or PC. Phishing scams, information-stealing malware, spam and other threats are just a click away at the end of an innocent looking link or buried in an email attachment.
As with smartphones, there’s the added risk of downloading a malicious app masquerading as a legitimate piece of software. It may be designed to steal your info, ring up huge bills by calling or texting premium rate numbers, or even to spy on you via the camera and on-board mic.
To be fair to Apple, its vetting process before allowing such apps onto the App Store is so rigorous that as long as you stick to this platform and don’t jailbreak your device, you’ll probably be ok. The same can’t be said of Android though, so be extra vigilant, always use the official app stores and think about downloading security software like Trend Micro Smart Surfing for iPhone, which will block any malicious apps.
Here’s a brief check-list to keep your tablet safe from harm
- Don’t jailbreak (or root) your tablet – this might expose the device to greater security risks.
- Be wary of any apps you download – check the author, don’t download any paid-for apps which are suddenly made available for free, and check you are comfortable with the permissions it seeks for access to your personal data.
- Lock the device with a strong password in case it gets stolen, and download the Find my iPhone app (also works for iPads) – or download security software for Android – which will locate the device in the event of loss or theft.
- If you’re on public Wi-Fi you may be being snooped on, so avoid logging into web accounts unless SSL encrypted. A good rule is to try not to do anything on public Wi-Fi you’re not comfortable with a bunch of strangers seeing.
- Download a third party mobile security software which will block malicious apps, scan for malware, prevent data loss and locate, lock or wipe a missing device.
Tony Larks works for Trend Micro and is guest blogging for the Fearless Web. The opinions expressed here are his own.