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So you have gotten your hands on the latest tablet in town and can’t wait to download the smorgasbord of apps available in the market, so you can play games or stay digitally connected all the time, even while you are on the go.
But did you know tablets, being similar to laptops, are also vulnerable to malware attacks?
Microsoft MVP Corrine, who will be sitting on our panel of experts for our very first online event ‘Malware and Security: How you can keep your systems bug-free’ and answering your questions from Nov 28 – 30, shares some tips on how you can protect your latest investment, so that you may have peace of mind while you surf or play that game of Angry Birds.
Tablet computers have been available for many years. Early versions required a stylus and were built around handwriting recognition. Generally, consumers found those early tablets more difficult to use than a desktop PC and the handwriting recognition frequently inaccurate.
Along came touch capability and, with the on-board keyboard, Tablet computers have taken on a new life. With many units having battery life of 10 or 12 hours with Wi-Fi enabled and weighing in at less than 2 pounds, Tablets are very desirable in the mobile lifestyle of today.
Included with that mobility are risks. Let's look at ways of protecting your investment and minimizing the inherent risks.
Ease of Portability for Thieves Too
One of the most desirable features of a Tablet is the ease of portability. A 10-inch Tablet weighing in at less than 1.7 pounds is easy to grab and go as you head out the door. However, with that same ease of portability in mind, Tablets are a desirable target for thieves. It only takes a few seconds to unobtrusively slip an unguarded device off the table at your favorite coffee shop while you step up to the counter to pick up your beverage or make a quick trip to the restroom.
The best security is not to leave your Tablet unguarded in public venues.
Because Tablets are such easy targets, many Tablet models include software protection such as Computrace® Mobile by Absolute® Software for tracking lost devices. If not included on your Tablet, download a security app such as Prey that can be used to locate your device if you lose it or it is stolen. When activated, this type of service provides the ability to track the location of the device from the GPS chip. Many of the programs provide the ability to freeze the device, delete data, as well as perform other remote security functions.
Use a Strong Password.
Using a strong password is not only important for protecting your online identity. It is also important for protecting your tablet. Select a unique password for your Tablet, not the same password you use for another device or account.
Ideally, your password should be at last 12 characters long with mixed case (upper and lower case) alpha and numeric characters. Include punctuation and symbols and do not use repeating characters. Suggested reading: How "safe" are your passwords?
To create or change the password on an Android tablet, tap the open arrow to view your apps. Select “Settings,” then “Security,” then “Change Screen Lock.” Choose “Password.”
Tablets Are Not Immune to Malware
Regardless of the operating system, Tablets are not immune to malware. To protect your investment, you need to install an antivirus software. A quick search of the Android Marketplace yields a variety of choices, including many of the well-known antivirus vendors such as ESET, Kaspersky, McAfee, and Symantec. Many of the options are free for personal use.
Almost all Tablets have Adobe Flash installed. Unfortunately, Flash has become a favorite target of malware writers. As a result, it is necessary to be aware of Adobe security updates. Generally, when Flash is updated, Adobe AIR also gets tweaked. The Tablet version of Adobe products is not the same as that for desktops and laptops. In order to get Adobe updates, it is necessary to navigate to the Android Marketplace with the Android device.
Apps Are Great But...
Part of the fun of a Tablet is adding fun applications, games and utilities, making it uniquely your own. However, caution is required when selecting apps for your Tablet. There are malicious apps disguised as useful, legitimate software. In addition, apps from unofficial third-party or peer-to-peer sites are more likely to contain malware.
Get apps for your Tablet from official vendor stores.
Always scan any downloaded app with your antivirus software before installing.
Carefully consider the permissions you are giving the app.
Security at Wi-Fi Hotspots
Always remember that traffic is public at a Wi-Fi Hotspot. This also applies to places where you pay to access a Wi-Fi network. The access fee does not guarantee a secure connection! This means that any information provided on a webpage not using SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to encrypt your communication can be both seen and captured by anyone else on the network. If the URL does not start with "https", you are not on a secure site.
Although most shopping and financial sites use SSL for login information, it is still safer to avoid any financial transactions while on Wi-Fi. Save that purchase until you are home behind a router!
Corrine, a Microsoft MVP whose forte lies in consumer security, is an active crusader against malware. She maintains a blog dedicated to this purpose, and also serves as an Administrator on several online forums and is a member of UNITE.
Join her as she, together with bugbatter, goretsky and other anti-malware companies representatives, will be answering all your queries about malware and security from Nov 28 – 30 in our community. See you at the event!