May News Article

Ring Ring, Security Calling

That smartphone in your pocket contains significant information about you and your friends/family. This includes contact numbers, photos, and locations. Your smartphone needs to be protected. Sensitive data stored on a smartphone is often worth more than the smartphone itself. This means you are potentially holding a security threat right in your hands. The risks to your personal privacy are very real with the functionalities of smartphones.

Smartphones are not immune to cyber attacks. Fortunately, you can take some quick and easy steps to make big improvements to your smartphone security. They don’t eliminate all risk, but they’re a solid baseline for you and your family.

Use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wisely.

With coffee shops, hotels, shopping malls, airports and many other locations offering their customers free access to public Wi-Fi, it’s a convenient way to check your emails, catch up on social networking or surf the web when you’re out and about. However, cybercriminals will often spy on public Wi-Fi networks and intercept data that is transferred across the internet. In this way, the cybercriminal could access your banking credentials, account passwords and other valuable information.

Use public Wi-Fi carefully. We understand you don’t want to use up all your data. However, public Wi-Fi is inherently insecure, so try not to make transactions or transmit sensitive data while using it. 

Adjust your smartphone's settings so it does not automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi networks. This gives you more control over where and when you connect.

Pro Tip = Use the KSU VPN when on public Wi-Fi networks.

Delete the Apps You Don’t Use

Next, we recommend going through your phone and deleting any apps that you don't plan on using in the future. Every app has the potential to be infected. Often, the apps you don't use are not receiving regular updates in the app store, so they become more vulnerable to cybercriminals. It is easier to just delete the old apps from your smartphone, rather than updating them and never using them. Make sure that "Automatic Downloads" (iPhone) or "Auto-update apps" (Android) is turned on for the apps you want to keep.

Note: One of the apps you should not delete is the Microsoft Authenticator app:


This app should stay installed on your device(s) for university multi-factor authentication (MFA) purposes. If you set up the app, please don’t delete it! The Microsoft Authenticator app will be able to receive notifications to approve an authentication request. A common helpdesk call results when employees delete this app and then get locked out of their account.  

Manage App Permissions

Letting apps have access to more data than required could lead to a security risk and expose some of your sensitive information. You can grant apps permission to your camera, microphone, phone contacts and location. Keep track of which permissions you've given to which apps and revoke permissions that are not needed. The key thing to remember is to identify the purpose of the app and question what permissions are needed to accomplish its purpose. So for example, does a game app need to have access to your location data? When you download a new app, always check the default app permissions.

There are steps that you can take to help ensure your smartphone is secure. The first step is to know precisely what data is being collected by the apps you use. You should also understand how your sensitive data may be stored, used, or shared by these apps.

  • For iPhones, go to Settings > Privacy, where you'll see a list of all permissions and the apps you've granted them to. 

  • For Android, go to Settings > Apps & Notification > Permission Manager for some versions of Android

Lock Your Smartphone

Set your phone to lock when you’re not using it and create a PIN or passcode to unlock it. Use at least a 6-digit passcode. You may also be able to unlock your phone with your fingerprint or your face.

Update Your Operating System/Software

Enable auto updates for your operating system. These updates often include critical patches and protections against security threats. Eventually, cybercriminals find a way to exploit every operating system, and the creators have to patch these vulnerabilities with a new update. You can also set up auto-updates.

Download Secure Apps

Cybercriminals are creating apps that are used to infect your smartphone and steal your sensitive data. 

  • ONLY download apps from trusted app stores 

    • Exp: Apple App Store, Google Play, etc.

  • Own your own security by doing your research before downloading

    • Read the reviews of apps 

    • Research the app developer

Backup Your Data

Backing up your data is important!  A smartphone is in constant danger of being lost, stolen, dropped in a toilet, left on top the roof of your car etc. For this reason, you should maintain a backup so you can restore your data in the event of your phone being lost, stolen, or destroyed.

Secure Your Lost Phone

Smartphone operating systems have programs that help you find your phone if you lose it. They also let you lock or erase all the data on your phone.


Use different passwords for different apps and sites. Make your passwords long and complicated, to include letters, numbers, and symbols. To add a second layer of protection, enable MFA for each account when you can. By thoroughly understanding the risks and taking the proper precautions, you can maintain your online privacy and security.