PDA Security

March 27, 2008

The "Securing Remote Devices and Using Good Security Practices While on the Internet" session at Emory's recent annual Information Security Awareness Mini-Conference discussed how to protect your PDA device...

Over the last few years, the demand for remote access to email and calendar information has risen dramatically. Constant access to email via a PDA device or smartphone is becoming essential to doing business at Emory, with more than 900 devices already syncing against the Exchange infrastructure. BlackBerries, Treos and other smartphones are becoming common sights everywhere you go, and it's not hard to figure out why there's something strangely addictive about feeling plugged in to email whether you're on the shuttle, out of town, or in a meeting.

But what happens when the device is lost or stolen? Losing a device loaded with confidential emails and contacts can cause potential problems for employees and for the University. When you're panicked and can't find your smartphone, what should you do?

Many of you may remember the old commercial featuring an elderly person alone in their home: they have fallen and can't get up, but because they have a special device, they can get the help they need. We may not have the same kind of panic button, but we do have ways to help when your device has gone missing. As always, a little advance preparation and prevention can make all the difference.

Here is a short list of things to do:

  • If you deal with confidential information that is stored on your device, then it should be encrypted. Most PDAs offer some built-in means of encrypting your data and third-party utilities exist for nearly all models.

  • If you deal with confidential information that is stored on your device, then it should be password protected. Even a simple PIN can buy precious time when your device is lost or stolen.

  • When you realize that your device has been lost or stolen, immediately call your Help Desk or Local Support contact.

  • The PDA device can be remotely wiped either through a Help Desk ticket, email, or phone call.

After looking this over, you're probably saying to yourself, that all makes sense, but how do I make it happen? What else can I do to keep my PDA secure? You can contact your local support representative for help in setting up your PDA as securely as possible.