Adopting Safer Habits: Mobile Devices

Verykool_s400_t742_r800_s470Protecting your mobile device and the data you use can be overwhelming, particularly if you try to do all the best practices at once. As with any new habit, safer computing habits are formed over time and here are a few simple things to get started.

First Steps

  1. Enable the “passcode” or “screenlock” option on your phone or tablet to limit other’s access to personal information and data available on the device.
  2. Register with a Find/Wipe Service like Find My iPhone/iPad or Google Find My Device to help locate and remove sensitive data from a lost device.
  3. Regularly restart your phone to clear data stored in cache.
  4. Refrain from altering the device’s operating system (ie. “jailbreaking” or “rooting”) to gain advanced control and flexibility.  Working within the default OS maintains the warranty and internal protections of the device.
  5. Keep your operating system and other software up to date, whether in iOS or Android.
Steps 1 and 2 are required as part of the Allegheny College Mobile Device Policy.

Next Steps

  1. Encrypt your device to make it harder for individuals to gain access to the personal information and data stored on the phone or tablet. Encryption is an easy process on most phones and tablets as it is part of the iOS and Android.
    • In newer versions of iOS encryption is turned on when you enable a passcode. You may also consider “encrypting your backup file” when syncing to iTunes by selecting the Encrypt Backup option in the device summary pane.
    • Android encryption is available from the privacy settings section and is as simple as clicking a check box and restarting. It is recommended that you have your device plugged before selecting this option as it requires a restart and you do not want your battery to die by accident in the process.
  2. Be cautious if you connect to open public networks (Public WiFi) such as the networks typically provided by restaurants and at other public locations.  There are very few requirements to join these networks, which means there is little protect from malicious users. Read more on using public WiFi.
  3. Know the types of data you are using on your device.
  4. Change your “passcode” or “screenlock” twice a year.

Final Mile

  1. Mail apps often allow for syncing of messages within a date range or by label.  Set to store the minimum number of days of email that isn’t overly disruptive to your work.
  2. Avoid transferring documents and files that contain institutional and protected data to your device.
    • Choose to view instead of download attachments.
    • Access Institutional and Protected Data from original sources (User Interface, Informer).
    • Use Google Drive to store and access other work documents to minimize loss of files should device be lost or stolen.
  3. Remove apps that you downloaded but don’t use. This will open up storage space and removes the access to your personal data.
  4. Attempt to use web interfaces instead of downloaded apps to minimize data transfer to your device.
  5. Review apps and settings to minimize college data that is stored on your phone or tablet.

Report lost devices or suspected data loss to Information Technology Services (ITS) by calling 814-332-2755.

Getting Advice on Safe Habits

The ITS staff is happy to discuss these suggestions and how you use your mobile device to assist you in adopting safe habits.  Please contact the Help Desk at 814-332-2755 or submit a ticket at to start this conversation.