If you own a tablet PC, you probably got it in part due to its easy transportability. Tablets are easier to store in a briefcase than a laptop, and they’re less cumbersome to use on the fly, such as when you’re on public transportation to or from the office. But that same convenience means you’re accessing a public network in some cases. Here are a few tips for staying secure when you’re browsing with your tablet in public locations.
Use a VPN if possible
If you’re connecting to the office, your company may have set you up with a VPN (virtual private network). This allows you to connect remotely through a secure connection, so your data isn’t as exposed as if you were sending it over the local coffee shop’s public Wi-Fi network.
Keep your tablet secure
Security isn’t just limited to digital access. When you’re using your tablet in public, a thief could physically steal your device. If you’re not using good security practices, anyone picking up your tablet could access your personal information. Keep your device secure by locking it and using a strong access pin or password.
Use your tablet’s built-in security features
Depending on the type of tablet you have, it may offer some built-in security features. Android tablets, for instance, offer the ability to encrypt data within the tablet’s memory. Should your tablet be physically stolen, it will be more difficult – although not impossible — for hackers to access your stored data.
Install security software
One of the most common threats when browsing with your tablet over a public connection is malware and spyware. Installing security software can protect your device from viruses and malicious files.
Use 3G instead of Wi-Fi
If you have a data plan, you can use your mobile provider’s 3G or 4G network to connect rather than a public Wi-Fi hotspot. This provides a bit of added security, as you’re not sending data over a totally non-secured network. It’s not quite as easy for hackers to intercept your data over 3G or 4G as it is a public Wi-Fi network.
Use smart browsing practices
If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, you’re going to find yourself relying on public hotspots pretty regularly to avoid massive data charges from your carrier. Follow safe browsing practices anytime you’re on a public network to minimize the data a hacker could obtain should they intercept it. Try to avoid logging into sensitive websites, such as financial institutions or credit card accounts. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re logged out of these sites before connecting to a public network, as well.
Avoid downloading via a public network when possible
If you’re downloading a file or application from a known, trusted source, you’re probably okay. But keeping downloads to a minimum – especially those you’re not 100 percent familiar with – can reduce the odds that you’re installing malware or spyware into your tablet.
Keep your software up to date
Your tablet’s operating system, like the OS of your laptop or desktop PC, will prompt you to install updates from time to time. Installing these updates is critical to your security. Many software updates contain patches and remedies for vulnerabilities discovered after the initial release. Failing to keep your software up-to-date could leave you at risk for attacks by known threats. This is something you can easily avoid simply by ensuring you’re running the latest software releases.
The very nature of tablet computing carries a bit of inherent risk. But don’t toss your tablet out the window just yet. Taking a few security precautions and following safe browsing practices makes it possible to reap all the benefits of tablet computing while minimizing your risks.
Author Bio: Fergal Glynn is the Director of Product Marketing at Veracode, an award-winning application security company specializing in linux hacking tools from Veracode and other security breaches with effective risk assessment tools