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Syracuse University program aims to secure mobile devices

Mobile devices have become so common place that we often don't think about how they expose us to the threat of identity and data theft, but Syracuse University has. That's why they've set up a mobile device security standard for their faculty and staff.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Mobile devices have become so common place that we often don't think about how they expose us to the threat of identity and data theft, but Syracuse University has. That's why they've set up a mobile device security standard for their faculty and staff.

For a place like SU, it’s almost impossible not to have someone on a mobile device like a phone or tablet, accessing school information. While it may improve efficiency, it’s also putting some very valuable data at risk and not at the hands of hackers, but simply from lost or stolen devices.

“It’s mind boggling how much information is flying around all the time and we’re carrying it all in the palm of our hand now,” said SU Director of Information Security Chris Croad.

SU faculty and staff have somewhere around 4,000 mobile devices connecting to the school’s network.

The school’s green data center has row after row of servers and hard drives. Croad says several million emails a day are going in and out of the school’s email system. It’s there, in the email, where the school identified most of where their information goes.

“There's a lot in email, so how do we protect that information if somebody leaves a device laying on a table in Starbucks and walks away, what can we do to protect it,” Croad said. “You do things like you put a PIN code on a device to try and make sure if someone picks it up, at the very least they have to know a code to get into it."

Also part of the security standard, the device will automatically lock after 15 minutes of inactivity and will automatically be wiped after 10 failed password entry attempts and users will not be able to disable its security settings. While no system is 100 percent secure, SU is making a strong effort to keep up with the breakneck pace of technology and its use.

Even if you don’t work at SU there are some simple things you can do to help protect your mobile device. Croad says put a PIN code on your phone. Almost all smartphones allow you to do it. Make sure to put an application like “Find my iPhone” on your device. It will help you track it down if it’s lost or stolen and you can also remotely wipe data from it.

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