Five ways to physically secure your devices

Greg Jennings
Thursday 5 August 2021

Without question, the security of your personal devices is paramount, both in terms of how you secure them technologically and physically. Not only should you focus on keeping your devices locked using a secure authentication method (or two), but the following set of tips should help you in understanding physical device security in and around campus.

1. Set up a method of authentication

To begin with, your device should always be locked with some form of authentication method. This usually involves setting up a password as the primary method. Guidance on how to set a strong password can be found on the IT website.

Nowadays, more modern technology now supports additional authentication methods such as facial recognition, fingerprints and more. Not only do these make accessing devices much quicker and simpler for the average user, but they also add to the level of device encryption whenever a password or lock is put onto the device. It is important to remember that a password should always be required alongside one of these authentication methods.

The reason device authentication/encryption is important is simple; if your device is lost or stolen, it will prevent any unauthorised person from gaining access to it and the data stored on the device itself.

2. Lock your devices

As a rule of thumb, it is essential that you lock your devices when you are not using them or are away from them even for a short period of time. This limits the chance of an unauthorised person from accessing them and even being able to access your data. It will also encourage your device to save battery when not in use and get you into the habit of regularly using your authentication methods of choice to prevent the possibility of, for instance, forgetting your password.

For a majority of on campus PC’s, there is a mechanism in place which automatically locks devices if unattended for a certain period of time, which should restrict the likelihood of someone else using the machine under your account and being able to access your data.

3. Don’t leave your devices unattended

Leaving any of your devices unattended either across campus or especially in public spaces is not recommended unless you have been advised otherwise or have good reason to (such as during a lecture). Although locked, devices such as smartphones and even laptops are easily transportable meaning they can be effortlessly lifted (intentionally or unintendedly) by someone other than yourself. Although there are parts of campus that are observed by CCTV, this should not be a point of reliance unless necessary.

4. Take care when transporting your device

When travelling in public or even around campus, it is popular for some people to keep their devices stored in a carry bag or backpack. This is completely fine; however, it is worth ensuring bags are correctly secured in a manner that will prevent snatching or looting. This is especially important when in crowded spaces or in public transport, where proximity to other people may be close.

If you want to be extra secure, peripheral objects such as a padlock can be used on your backpacks if you feel this necessary.

5. Be mindful of Information Classification

As a side note, the University also has an Information Classification Policy which defines appropriate actions when accessing, handling, storing, transmitting and disposing of information or data that is protectively marked. This would be an appropriate document to refer to when working on or dealing with data that is sensitive or of high importance, and especially if you feel there has been a breach or a device that has been stolen which lacks proper authentication or encryption methods.

Additional Tips

  • Always make sure you backup your data regularly so that in the event something does happen, you have a copy of your most recent files.
  • Never let anyone else borrow or use your device.
  • Be wary of what data you are accessing when using free wireless networks or public access points with your devices.

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