11 ways to keep cyber-safe outside the office

By Jeremy Swinfen-Green

We all want to stay on the grid when we are away from home or the office. But doing so comes with some hefty cyber-security risks. TEISS Head of Consulting Jeremy Swinfen Green offers some tips on keeping yourself and your mobile phone safe on the road.

The days of 1G are long gone. Outside remote country areas, it’s pretty easy to stay connected on your mobile phone wherever you are in the UK.

But you need to take care when staying connected. Otherwise you may find that unscrupulous people are listening in to your conversations. Or worse, stealing your login details and payment card numbers when you use your smartphone.

"You may find that unscrupulous people are listening in to your conversations."

Tips to stay cyber-safe

Here are 11 cyber-security tips to help you and your mobile devices stay safe

  1. Use your telco to connect to the internet. If you use your mobile phone provider’s connection rather than free Wi-Fi you will be a lot safer. It can be easy for people to listen in on public Wi-Fi and steal your data.
  2. If for some reason you have to use public Wi-Fi, then check out the free Wi-Fi provider. Don’t assume that the all the Wi-Fi hotspots you see on your smartphone or tablet are safe. If you are in a café or hotel check the name of their official hotspot with staff. And disable automatic connections to Wi-Fi. You don’t want your phone connecting to a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot without you knowing it.
  3. If you have to use public Wi-Fii, then also use a VPN. Virtual private networks will help to keep you safe when you are online by encrypting the data you send out on your phone. Free VPN software is available – try CyberGhost – so this basic protection doesn’t have to cost you.
  4. You should also use security software. You probably have antivirus software on your PC. But you should also have it on your mobile devices. Again there is plenty of free software available – try AVG.
  5. Make sure your phone is secure. Don’t use a PIN to secure it: go a step further and use a simple password with lowercase letters and numbers (avoiding capital letters will make it easier to unlock it). It’s a good idea to go a step further and secure apps like email with a simple PIN as well.
  6. Log out of banking and shopping apps when you have finished using them. And don’t allow them to store passwords or credit card details.
  7. Don’t jail break your phone. It might sound fun to customise it more than the manufacturer allows but doing so could be dangerous and risk your security.
  8. Keep to the official app stores. On the whole, the apps on Google Play and Apple iTunes will be safe to use. If you download apps from unofficial places then you may well get an unpleasant surprise.
  9. If you are really paranoid, or if you are sending very secret information, encrypt your messages. The easiest way to do this is to use an encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp. If you need to use email then there are some platforms that offer an encrypted service such as ProtonMail. Or you could plug an encryption service like Virtru into your email platform.
  10. It’s a good idea to think about what might happen if you lose your mobile device. Encrypt your phone if you are worried about what you store on it. This is safer than simply locking the phone. Locks can be bypassed! You might also want to set up the ability to wipe the data on your phone remotely. Then if it does get lost you can make sure no one else can access sensitive data on the phone.
  11. If your phone breaks or you lose it and you are forced to use a public PC, assume that it is insecure and has keyloggers installed, even if it is in a location like a hotel business centre. Don’t use it for banking, shopping, transmitting sensitive messages or logging on to your corporate network.

Keeping cyber-safe outside the office is relatively straightforward if you take these simple precautions. If you want to know more about keeping your organisation cyber-safe, why not visit TEISS's training and consulting website to see if any of our services might be of interest.

Do not cut corners, train yourself to become a skilled end-user.