Device and Data Security

Protect access to your devices from unwanted activity

Perpetrators may try to gain or maintain personal access to devices – whether it is by using a survivor’s password, or by setting up another account. Protect access to your devices – change passwords as described above and set up new authentication methods (fingerprints / facial recognition) to access them. Remove additional users – particularly if those accounts belong to a perpetrator or their associates.

Where you think a device may have been compromised with malware, consider a factory reset to be sure there is nothing on it to cause a problem. Be advised that restoring data from online backups could reinstall malware – so ensure that all restored data is subject to a rigorous anti-virus scan or discarded. In exceptional circumstances, survivors may consider it necessary to replace the device entirely and set up brand new accounts to resume their online activities. Always remove unwanted or unrecognised apps.

Many mobile devices offer location services which transmit the location of the device at any given point in time. Be advised that some apps that use this feature may provide real-time updates of your location which can be used by perpetrators. Survivors should consider disabling any unnecessary location transmissions on apps, software, fitness monitors, vehicles, phones etc. Location services can be turned off entirely – read instructions for Android and Apple devices.

Mobile device providers generally provide a service enabling you to find your device if it’s lost. People often use this to ensure their children are safe. If you use a family account then anyone with access will be able to locate the devices registered on the system so ensure you are familiar with removing your devices if necessary. Read instructions for Android and Apple devices.

Some data is very precious, and this can be lost in a variety of ways – computer malfunction, natural disaster, virus’s & malware or even by a perpetrator destroying it. Always make sure you have a backup. Microsoft and Google account holders can benefit from cloud backup storage options – Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive. Other backup methods can also be considered – USB sticks, external hard drives being examples. Always remove your backup device from the computer and store it safely. Read NCSC advice on backups.

Lastly, consider any device at home that may connect to the Internet – e.g. IP cameras, thermostats, lights and doorbells. Such devices are often referred to as being part of the Internet of Things. A lot of these devices will allow users to connect from the Internet so consideration must be given to changing passwords and / or usernames where necessary.