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JHC Technology is a Service Disabled, Veteran-Owned, Small Business based in the Washington, DC Metro area. Our primary focus is to offer customized solutions and IT consulting to our Commercial and Government clients. Our experts have a broad experience delivering and managing Microsoft Enterprise applications and Cloud and Virtualization Solutions, as well as mobilizing Enterprise data.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Purging Your Devices

If you own a device with wireless capabilities chances are you are actively using that feature, whether you realize it or not.

OK, so let's narrow the scope down to smartphones and tablets. The top 4 popular operating systems on these devices are Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Apple iOS.
I have used all 4 on some sort of device (smartphone or tablet or both) and one thing that has stood out like a sore "security" thumb was when it came to managing wireless (WiFi) profiles.
How many of you know how to get to your wireless configuration settings to add and remove specific wireless profiles?

For example, last year I traveled to a foreign country by plane. While I was in a DC airport waiting to board, I decided to connect to an airport pay-for-service WiFi on my iPad. I filled out the form and I was up and surfing. After a while it came time to finally board my flight and head off to my destination, but I had a 3-hour layover at another airport. So I decided to get on the Internet again, but this time it was a different service. However, this time it was free. So I decided to hook up all my other devices, such as Blackberry and Android tablets. So there I was, multitasking with all my electronics, until my next flight boarded. After a long day of traveling, I finally got to my destination, and like any electronic device driven person this day in age, I
connected ALL my devices to the Internet before I even unpacked the rest of my bags. 


After 10 days of fun I came back home and it was time to get back into the groove of things, work, 2+ hours commute and every-day life activities. While my vacation was now a memory relived through pictures, conversations and random thoughts, my devices had not been purged clean since they were holding onto the trip information still.

The good thing is that these "virtual" memories can easily be deleted. In fact, I highly recommend that you be paranoid and actively delete these memories from your devices. The main reason is in regards to wireless security, as related in my last blog.

Previously, I mentioned that your devices always beacon out looking for previous wireless
connections that are in your device profiles. Well in this story, I created extra wireless profiles on my iPad and on 2 other devices. Fortunately, I can delete these profiles on every device one at a time, except the Apple device.  I have many profiles on my devices and don't want to delete my home WiFi, my work WiFi or any other previously created WiFi profile on my devices. I just want to remove the ones that I know I will not use again.

So what I do is open my configuration settings on my devices and pick one profile at a time and delete it.  I do this on my Blackberry and my Android. However, the Apple device does not give
 me that option. The only option Apple devices give me is all or none...unless you are within range of said WiFi and the iPad (Apple device) detects the WiFi signal, at which point you can tell your Apple device to "Forget it" within your wireless configurations. So your only option if you use Apple device is to delete all the profiles. It is not so horrible, but just a burden and a best practice in order to keep maintain the security of your device.

So how many people do you think purge or clean their devices after they were done with an Internet connection they will probably not use again? I believe there are many people who don't want to deal with it, let it
 be and continue collecting WiFi profiles on their devices. I say to those people: Beware!
You really need to do a little cleanup with your devices every now and then and reduce your chances of getting owned.


Ernesto Fuller is the Senior Security Administrator for JHC Technology.  He can be reached at efuller(at)jhctechnology.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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