Protecting and Restricting iPads, iPhones, and Android Devices

by | Jan/2/2018

Because many families, and business professionals, received new tablets for the holidays, it is important to consider security. Families, as well as businesses, may choose to restrict permissions on devices. Here’s how:

Set a passcode on the device. Even a 4-digit code is much better than nothing. Just avoid 0000, 1111, 1234, 2580, or other easily guessed codes. Keeping the device in your possession, or in a secure place, is just as essential since is can prevent the opportunity for someone to guess your password.

Keep the device backed up, and apply security patches as soon as they are released. The patches often protect against attacks that are already happening in the wild.

Do not connect to Wi-Fi networks without weighing the risk of convenience versus your potential benefits. When you connect to any Wi-Fi network, there is a chance that attackers can exploit your device in many ways. Because bad actors can trick your device into connecting to their malicious access points without your knowledge, consider using your device’s settings to disable Wi-Fi when you are not using it. Re-enable Wi-Fi only when you are at your office, home, or in another trusted environment.

At the office, there is technology that will allow your IT team to implement MDM, Mobile Device Management, to restrict your team members’ activity on their devices. This can help protect against one of your team members accidentally becoming a vector for attackers to access, and potentially interfere with, your entire organization’s network.

For families, keep these three possibilities in mind:

First, use the internal parental controls and restrictions that are built into the device. The settings and features are very effective, and well documented on the support sites. More features can be added with security and feature updates, so review the settings periodically. The best strategy for using these restriction settings is to use steps A, B, and C.

  • Step A: As you apply security and privacy restrictions to a device for a family member, keep reminding yourself that you are restricting that device for their, not your, needs. It is easy to think about how you might want to use wireless payment options, and then you avoid restricting the options accordingly. When in doubt, restrict. You can always re-enable features later.
  • Step B: Before applying parental control restrictions, first configure the other settings on the device. If you apply parental control restrictions first, you may find that you’ve restricted your own ability to adjust these settings.
  • Step C: Wait until you finish steps A and B before you apply the restrictions designed to protect family members. You’ll be prompted to create your own unique password so that, in theory, only you can adjust the parental controls.

Second, when protecting families, consider commercially available tools designed to enhance your ability to, not only restrict, but also monitor usage. Many reviews place a product named Qustodio at the top of the list. We receive no compensation in any way for recommending this, or any other product or service. We just want you to have a place to start. It seems that, for many of the control tools available, parents either love them or hate them, depending on their expectations. To help ensure a good outcome for you, research the features and read comments from other parents. Restrict your search to comments made in 2017. Each product’s features, and approval ratings, tend to change from year to year. Some products will even permit you to restrict laptops and desktop computers in addition to tablets and phones. Interestingly, you may find that third party software is able to restrict Android devices more than Apple devices. This is because Apple’s own internal controls are already so restrictive, they can partially block the parental control software too.

Third, consider restricting the Internet access at your home, too. For example, you may choose to set a time limit on usage duration or time of day. This can help ensure that youngsters get enough sleep. A very powerful tool is called Circle with Disney. Again, we receive no compensation for recommending products or services. This tool is widely accepted as being one of the best. If nothing else, check out its features to help you get an idea of what you may want to control. It has a feature that can restrict access even when the device uses a cellular connection or connects to a different network. That added protection can prevent family members from simply going to someone else’s house to operate without restrictions. Bear in mind that Internet filtering tools do not restrict the ability for family members to use apps, except for apps that need to connect to the Internet in order to function. The afore mentioned products can control both apps and Internet usage. But sometimes having two products can be helpful too.

When implementing family control tools, remember that all of them include privacy risks. While restricting apps and Internet usage, software is able to monitor your family members’ electronic behavior too. That information can be sold to marketing firms who already build a profile on each consumer. Do you want to contribute to what they know about your family members? What if bad actors gain access to information that helps them target a family member? You may decide the risks are worth the benefits.

Please forward this information to everyone you know who might want to place restrictions on Apple and Android based devices. Thank you for helping make the world a safer place to live and work! Happy New Year!