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How to secure your smartphone and tablet PC when travelling

Make sure your devices don't get hacked

We've become accustomed to having ready access to the internet just about anywhere. The problem is, it's easy to forget how vulnerable that makes us to security threats. We show you what's secure and what's not, and how to make sure your smartphones and tablet PCs don't get hacked the next time you step out of the house.

9 tips for keeping your mobile devices secure

1. Make sure your software is up-to-date
The first line of defence, says Nocera, is making sure that all your software is up-to-date. "Almost every release of software patches a number of security vulnerabilities that are out there," he says. Before every trip, or at least every few weeks, it's a good idea to check the manufacturer's website (or search Google www.google.co.uk ) to see if a software or firmware update is available. If there's a new one, download it, unless there's a massive firestorm of negative reviews from early adopters.

2. Employ strong passwords.
"Be sure to use some combination of letters, numbers and/or special characters of 8 characters or more," says Jeremy Miller, director of operations for Kroll Fraud Solutions. "Avoid using dictionary words. Instead, [use] acronyms for things like favourite songs, restaurants or other items known only to you. And change the password frequently - at least once every six months.

If you're just not feeling clever enough to create your own passwords, programs like RoboForm will do it for you.

3. Don't mess with the security settings
Nocera notes that most of the default browser settings in Android, iPhone, and Blackberry phones are fairly secure out of the box. "I recommend not going in to change browser security settings - they're pretty good already," he says.

4. Avoid unencrypted public wireless networks
Such Wi-Fi networks require no authentication or password to log into, so anyone can access them - including the bad guys. In some cases, bad guys set up an open network to snare unsuspecting people. Encrypted networks, on the other hand, are those that require an ID or password for access - you'll find such networks at many hotels and coffee shops that offer Wi-Fi services. These networks have two different types of security - WEP (wired equivalent privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi protected access); the second is most secure. Even encrypted networks, though, have risks - it's possible for bad guys to gain access to encrypted networks at a hotel or café, for instance, so be cautious about the sorts of things you do on such networks.

Besides avoiding connecting to unencrypted networks, turn off Wi-Fi when you're not using it. This will prevent you from automatically connecting to networks (and it will extend your device's battery life).

5. Paying to access a Wi-Fi network doesn't mean it's secure
Access fees do not equal security. Just because you pay a fee to access a Wi-Fi network doesn't mean that the network is secure.

NEXT PAGE: Even more tips

  1. Make sure your devices don't get hacked
  2. 9 tips for keeping devices safe
  3. Even more tips
  4. If you still get hacked

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