Get the best out of your tablet – securely

Tablets are truly all-rounders. You can browse, watch videos, read magazines, and work, all from the comfort of your couch. However, their on-trend looks and many entertainment functions often keep us from remembering that they, too, are computers that are subject to attacks and therefore need protecting. For this reason, we have put together some tips for using them securely.

Nine tips for better Android tablet security

When it comes to the Android operating system, Google’s requirements only cover the environment and basic functions. Any manufacturer can change the system of functions and particularly of menu labels. That is why your tablet may have a different name for a command, or a function may be located in a place that is different from the one described. The integrated search function on the device can help you with this.

  1. Set up a device lock: Like a smartphone, a tablet gets to be a very personal object for most people. They save sensitive information on it, such as a personal address book, access data to social networks, or emails – possibly even those related to work. That is why we recommend setting up a lock for the device. There are numerous options for this, such as unlocking patterns, PIN or password entry, and – depending on the device – also fingerprint sensors or facial recognition, also called “face unlock”. No matter which method you use, make sure that you can enter the pattern or password unobtrusively. You will find the setup function in Settings > Security > Screen lock type. Go to Settings > Security > Secure lock settings and disable “Make pattern visible” so the pattern will not display when you enter it.
  2. Install updates: You should immediately install any system updates offered by the manufacturer, because updates contain many improvements to the system. Errors are repaired and any existing security gaps are closed. You will find the setup function in Settings > Software update.
  3. Back up your data regularly: Run data backups at regular intervals. One way to do this is to connect the tablet to your PC by USB cable. The device will then appear in Explorer as a removable device. After it does, simply copy the files to your computer. Alternatively, use the option of backing up your data to the cloud using Google or another app unrelated to the manufacturer. Settings > Cloud and accounts > Backup and restore > Backup settings or Backup account.
  4. Only use apps from official sources: These have been tested by Google or the app store provider. Only then are they made publicly available. For this reason, deselect the “Use third-party software” option: Settings > Security > Unknown sources.
  5. Limit authorizations for apps: Before an app is permanently installed, you have to confirm permissions to access it. These permissions are frequently much too broad. You can change permissions at any time at Settings > Apps (pick the app in question) > Permissions > “Deselect unnecessary permissions”.
  6. Disable GPS: If you do not plan to use the tablet for navigation, disable GPS location, because this allows users to be profiled. You will find the option in Settings > Connections > Location. Or swipe down from the upper edge of the screen to access these settings quickly. However, this function is not available on all devices.
  7. Authorize in-app purchases: In-app purchases may trigger hidden costs. To protect yourself from them, enable the option for authorizing these purchases. Then users will have to enter the necessary code for every purchase transaction. To get to the function, take the following steps: Open Google Play Store and swipe right. Then enable Settings > “Require authentication for purchases”.
  8. Use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth sparingly: Only enable Wi-Fi when they are actually being used. You can get to the options by going to Settings > Connections > Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Or swipe down from the upper edge of the screen to access these settings quickly. However, this function is not available on all devices. 
  9. Encrypt your SD card: When external data storage is used, it can be encrypted on many devices. Then it is only possible to access it with a code. Please note that encryption cannot be reversed, so this security precaution is for you, too! You will find the setup function in Settings > Security > Encrypt SD card.

Eight tips for better iPad security

  1. Protect your iPad from unauthorized access to protect your personal data. Depending on the version, iOS offers a number of options for this: A four-digit numerical code, your own combination of numbers of any length, or a password composed of any characters. Newer models also have a fingerprint sensor (Touch ID), which makes it easy to unlock the tablet. A longish password affords the most security. To enter one, access Settings and then Touch ID & Passcode, sometimes called simply Code. Then select Turn Passcode On or Change Passcode. The Code Options button allows the type of code to be set. In the same menu, you also have the opportunity to save a fingerprint. 
  2.  Enable automatic deletion of data. This is a smart iOS feature that ensures that data saved on the device is automatically erased after ten failed attempts to unlock the device. This setting is also available in Settings > Touch ID & Passcode. 
  3. Configure the lock screen correctly: Many functions can still be used even when the phone is locked. These include the camera, the Control Center, and Siri. The Control Center should be disabled because it allows an attacker to circumvent the Find My iPad function by turning off the data connection. To do this, tap Control Center in the settings and disable it. 
  4. Disable Preview: Choose Settings > Notifications and tap Messages or Mail. Then disable the Show Previews menu item. You can also completely disable displays of notifications for individual apps. You will find the Notifications heading in Settings. There, you can select the apps you want and make changes to the option.
  5. Change privacy settings: Under the Privacy heading in Settings, you have the option of determining precisely which apps may access the camera, your location, reminders, and other functions. This allows you to tailor the authorizations in the system and the installed apps precisely to your security needs. Operation is self-explanatory. 
  6. Enable Backup: It is advisable to synchronize the device with iCloud, Apple’s cloud server, so that you will still have access to your data even if your device is lost or stolen. Tap your user name in Settings. There you can enable Backup under the Apple ID heading. However, please note that your data will then be stored on servers in the United States. In disputed cases, U.S. law gives authorities the option of viewing all data and information saved to a cloud. 
  7. Only enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when necessary. Give attackers as little opportunity for an attack as possible. That’s why you should only turn Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on when they are really needed. Each element has its own entry in Settings. Alternatively, you can also use the Control Center to turn off the functions.
  8. Enable the automatic search function: The Find My iPad function lets you see the location of a stolen device. Here, you will have to weigh your security needs against your privacy needs, because the feature only functions if location determination is permanently enabled. Tap your user name in Settings to turn the function on. There, enable location by tapping Find My iPad.

Further reading