Keeping Smartphones and Laptops Secure

Device Security Checklist

More than 7 billion mobile devices are in use around the world today.1  That's nearly one device per person on the planet. As laptops, tablets and smartphones become increasingly widespread, so do the security threats surrounding them.

In 2014, an estimated 38 percent of mobile users experienced cybercrime within a 12-month time period.2  These security breaches expose sensitive data, compromise personal information, damage and delete important files and wreak havoc on hard drives. 

To help you take the appropriate steps to secure your devices, sensitive data and important files, Nationwide has developed the following checklists for:

Strong passwords provide a front-line barrier between a cyber criminal and your personal information. For password tips, review our password security checklist.

Antivirus software

Viruses are pieces of malicious software typically transmitted over the Internet or via removable media such as thumb drives. A virus can infect your device without you realizing it, then replicate itself — deleting files, reformatting disks and causing other damage.

Most antivirus software looks for malware automatically. You can also use scanning media, available as CDs and DVDs, to manually scan files for viruses. Some antivirus software will alert you in the event malware is found and ask if you want to remove it from the file. Other antivirus solutions automatically remove the malware without alerting you.3 

To ensure the most effective use of antivirus software, follow these guidelines: 

☐   Familiarize yourself with the features of your antivirus package so you know what to expect

☐   Once antivirus software is installed on your device, be sure to keep it up to date (many types of software can be configured to update automatically)4

☐   After installing your software, scan your entire computer or device regularly for malware

☐   Scan any downloaded file or email attachment for viruses before you open it3

☐   Don’t open email attachments from an unknown recipient, and be cautious with forwarded attachments even from people you do know

Data storage, backup and recovery

While securing your devices from malicious attackers and malware, you should also secure your data by backing up your files to another source. 

There are multiple options available for storing and backing up your data. You can use a portable storage tape, CD, DVD, removable flash drive or an external hard disk drive (HDD) to back up and store your data off-site.5 You may also consider storing backups of your data online or with a cloud service. Hosted by third parties, external cloud storage options similar to Flickr, Dropbox or Google Docs are web-based services that allow you to remotely back-up your files and data.6

Follow this checklist to make sure your data is securely and properly stored and protected:

☐   Back up your data regularly —  even weekly, if you consistently add or change data7

☐   Store your data backup in a location different than your device, or even in an off-site location8

☐   Back up your data using multiple systems, including external storage solutions such as hard drives and online storage. Choose a strong password for authentication to access your data back-up.

☐   If you use cloud storage, look for the “https://” or the padlock icon beside the URL to ensure an encrypted connection

Staying current with your security

To keep pace with new threats, software providers and security companies continually update the security features available to users. 

Antivirus software, for example, updates on a weekly or monthly basis as new viruses and malware are discovered. Likewise, the developer of your device’s operating system will also release system updates, including security updates, on a regular basis. 

This basic checklist will help you ensure that your devices and data are being protected by the most current security features:

☐   Turn on Automatic Updates when you set up your computer or device to have the latest security features installed automatically9 

☐   Check your software providers’ website regularly for updates and install as needed

☐   Install upgraded versions of software you regularly use as they become available10

☐   Download updates only from websites you know and trust


Firewalls block malicious network traffic or software. If you choose to download firewall software from the Internet, verify the source to make sure it’s reputable.4 Whichever firewall solution you choose, you should be able to configure it to block security threats while continuing to let through content you wish to see.

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