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Secure Your Smart Phone

If you'd like to set up a mobile device to access your e-mail, you will need to set a Google Apps password at start.nyu.edu (this is different from your NetID password). You will then need to configure your mobile device; see the Setting Up Your Mobile Device tab for instructions.

Mobile devices, such as smart phones, PDAs, and tablets, are computers with advanced operating systems capable of running robust applications and storing large amounts of data. It is essential that you enable the appropriate security controls to protect the data you store and access on them. In addition, the use of any mobile device to send, receive, view, transmit or store University related data must adhere to the Policy on Responsible Use of NYU Computers and Data.

Voicemail Security

All cellphones should have a voicemail password set. Follow the ServiceLink knowledge base links below for instructions on how to create a passcode for your Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint voicemail inbox.

iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad Security

Visit the ServiceLink knowledge base for instructions: Mobile Devices (ITS): iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad security.

Android security

The are many different versions of the Android operating system across many different devices and carriers. While Google will often release a new version of Android on a quarterly to yearly basis, these updates may not be immediately available to all devices. (Note: The following instructions refer to the old Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" OS; they will be updated for the latest OS by late fall of 2013).

Click on the bars below on securing your Android device. (Note that your Android device's menu options may differ slightly from the instructions listed below.)

Set a Passcode »

  1. From the Home screen, press the Menu button.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Choose Location & Security
  4. Click on Set up screen lock.
  5. Choose the preferred method of input: Pattern, Pin, or Password (recommended).
  6. After typing in your password, press the physical back key to save.
  7. Still within Location & Security, uncheck Visible passwords

Note: After enabling this setting, the Android device will always require a password to unlock the screen or to display the password lock settings.


Enable Auto-Lock »

  1. From the Home screen, press the Menu button.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Choose Display.
  4. Click on Screen timeout
  5. Select your preferred auto-lock time. (1 minute or less is highly recommended.)

Install Updates Regularly »

  1. From the Home screen, press the Menu button.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Scroll down and choose About Phone.
  4. Click on System Updates.
  5. You will be prompted to download and install available updates.

Note: Android devices are able to update OTA (over-the-air) without the need for a computer. When updates are available, carriers will automatically push them to devices at low usage times (generally, midnight-6am). Note that Android updates are carrier and model specific. If an update fails to install, contact your wireless provider.


Securely Configure Bluetooth & WiFi»

For Bluetooth, do the following:

  1. From the Home screen, press the Menu button.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Click on Wireless & networks.
  4. Open Bluetooth Settings
  5. Uncheck the Bluetooth option when not in use.

For WiFi, do the following:

  1. From the Home screen, press the Menu button.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Click on Wireless & networks.
  4. Open Wi-fi Settings
  5. Uncheck the Wi-Fi option when not in use.

Note: Remember to disable both of these wireless services when not in use. Avoid connecting to unknown network or devices, especially in public areas such as cafés, parks, the street, etc.


Enable Encryption »

With the exception of a few devices, there are no native built-in encryption features for Android devices prior to version 2.3.3. However, it may be possible to download and install encryption software from 3rd party software vendors via the Android Marketplace.

To enable encryption on certain Motorola Droid phones, do the following:

  1. From the Home screen, press the Menu button.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Choose Location & Security
  4. Scroll down and select Data Encryption
  5. Enable Encrypt Device Data
  6. When prompted, click Proceed
  7. After your device reboots, return to the Data Encryption settings pane and select Encrypt memory card
  8. When prompted, click Proceed
  9. After your device reboots, both device and memory card data will be encrypted.

Do Not Store or Transmit Restricted Data »

Due to the limitations of Android encryption and the high probability of theft, it is imperative that restricted data never be stored on or transmitted from Android devices. This includes, but is not limited to, sending and saving emails containing restricted data, copying and storing restricted data in an application, or taking screenshots or images of restricted data.


Erase All Data »

To erase all data on the phone:

  1. From the Home screen, press the Menu button.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Choose Privacy.
  4. Select Factory data reset
  5. Place a checkmark by the option Erase SD Card
  6. Select Reset phone
  7. When prompted type in your passcode.
  8. Select Erase Everything.
  9. The device will restart during the formatting process.

To erase only the data on the SD Card:

  1. From the Home screen, press the Menu button.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Choose SD Card & phone storage.
  4. Click Unmount SD card.
  5. Select Erase SD card.
  6. Choose Erase SD Card again
  7. When prompted, type in your passcode
  8. Select Erase Everything.

Note: There are no native secure wipe features on Android 2.0-2.3.3 devices. While a factory reset and format SD card option are available, this will not prevent an attacker from restoring deleted data using widely available data recovery tools. To erase content on an Android device, make sure to factory reset the phone and format any inserted SD cards.


Avoid Physical Theft »

Remember to never leave your smart phone unattended. If you do lose your smart phone, however, there are free third-party tracking software applications to help locate it. Google Maps has built-in device tracking options via its Latitude feature. In addition, there are other free or paid tracking solutions available within the Android Marketplace. (With any geo-location tracking software, make sure to review the app's privacy policy before installing it.)

Report lost or stolen NYU-owned mobile devices to its.mobile@nyu.edu.


BlackBerry Security

Click on the bars below for instructions on securing your BlackBerry. (Note: These instructions refer to the BlackBerry OS 5; they will be updated for the latest OS by late fall of 2013).

Set a Passcode »

  1. On your home screen, choose Options.
  2. Scroll down and select Security.
  3. Select Password
  4. Toggle the option to Enabled
  5. Press the escape menu and type in a new password when prompted

Note: After enabling this setting, your BlackBerry may require a passcode to unlock the screen or to change the password settings. Choosing a passcode lock of eight alpha- and non-alphanumeric characters is highly recommended.


Enable Auto-Lock »

  1. From your home menu or through the search tool, choose Options.
  2. Scroll down and select Security.
  3. Select Password.
  4. Verify that the Password option is set to Enabled.
  5. Change Number of Password Attempts to 10.
  6. Set the Lock After time to 1 Min. (Shorter times are more secure.)
  7. Enable Prompt on Application Install and Handheld Upon Holstering
  8. Verify that Allow Outgoing Calls While Locked is left unchecked
  9. Press the escape button to save and quit

Install Updates Regularly »

  1. From your home menu, choose Options.
  2. Open Device.
  3. Scroll down the menu and select Software Updates.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions for installing available updates.

Note: Before updating your BlackBerry, make sure to back up all of its data. You will need to install BlackBerry Desktop Manager on your Windows or Mac OS X computer in order to complete the backup and restore process.

Securely Configure Bluetooth and WiFi »

To disable Bluetooth, do the following:

  1. From the main icon screen, select the Manage Connections application.
  2. Uncheck the Bluetooth option when not in use.

If Bluetooth is required, do the following:

  1. From within Manage Connections, scroll down to Bluetooth Connections.
  2. Press the BlackBerry's physical menu button to bring up the options menu.
  3. Select Options.
  4. Set LED Connection Indicator to On.
  5. Press the escape key to return to the Bluetooth options panel
  6. Toggle Discoverable to No.
  7. Quit the Bluetooth options area and choose the Save option when prompted.

For WiFi, do the following:

  1. From the main icon screen, select the Manage Connections application.
  2. Uncheck the Wi-fi option when not in use.

Note: Remember to disable both of these wireless services when not in use. Avoid connecting to unknown networks or devices, especially in public areas such as cafés, parks, the street, etc.


Enable Encryption »

To enable encryption, do the following:

  1. From your home menu or through the search tool, choose Options.
  2. Select Security.
  3. Go into Encryption
  4. Enable Encrypt
  5. Verify that Strength is set to Strong.
  6. Leave Include Contacts and Include Media Files unchecked
  7. Press the escape menu button to save and quit (you may be prompted to type in your password).

If your device supports media cards (MiniSD, MicroSD, etc.), do the following additional steps:

  1. Back up all of your media card's data before proceeding.
  2. From your home menu, choose Options.
  3. Select Security
  4. Enable Encrypt
  5. Verify that Strength is set to Strong.
  6. Scroll down to Media Card and enable Encrypt
  7. Under Mode, choose Device
  8. Press the escape menu button to save and quit (you may be prompted to type in your password).

Note: Enabling encryption on older Blackberry devices may significantly impact performance. If this is the case, try removing unwanted applications and restart the device. If this does not improve performance, you should consider disabling encryption.


Do Not Store or Transmit Restricted Data »

Due to the limitations in encryption and the high probability for theft, it is imperative that that restricted data never be stored or transmitted onto or from mobile devices. This includes, but is not limited to, sending and saving emails containing restricted data, copying and storing restricted data in an application, or taking screenshots or images of restricted data.


Secure Wipe »

Secure wipe will delete all personal and application data on your BlackBerry. Once secure wipe is enabled, your data will no longer be recoverable.

Do not enable this feature until you have fully backed up your BlackBerry.

To secure delete all data on your BlackBerry, do the following:

  1. From your home menu, choose Options.
  2. Select Security.
  3. Go into Secruity Wipe.
  4. Select Emails, Contacts, etc. and User Installed Applications. Select Media Card if you wish to also delete its contents as well.
  5. Scroll down to the confirmation field and type blackberry
  6. Select Wipe Data when ready to delete

Note: This deletion process may take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours, depending on your BlackBerry's memory size and processor speed.


Avoid Physical Theft »

Remember to never leave your smart phone unattended. If you do lose your smart phone, however, there are free third-party tracking software applications to help locate it. Google has location settings available. In addition, there are other free or paid tracking solutions available within the BlackBerry App World application marketplace. (With any geo-location tracking software, make sure to review the app's privacy policy before installing it.)

Report lost or stolen NYU-owned mobile devices to its.mobile@nyu.edu.


Page last reviewed: November 1, 2011