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Secure your new mobile device immediately

(NC) You are probably eager to explore that new device you received over the holidays, but right at the outset, think about protecting yourself.

Today's smartphones and tablets do a lot more than just phone calls and text messages. They are mini-computers, handheld wallets, and they can hold a lot of information about you and your online accounts. If you don't set them up to be secure, your phone can also be a welcome mat for cyber criminals.

So once you unwrap that new gift, check out these simple tips to make your new device secure:

• Enable a passcode immediately so your device will always lock after a short period of inactivity.

• Avoid connecting to unknown or non-password protected Wi-Fi networks, even if they are private. An unsecure wireless network can compromise your information, including your contact list, as well as give someone else use of your data plan.

• Be aware that mobile phishing (fake emails or texts that impersonate a friend or trusted organization) is a growing threat, especially since unusual messages can be harder to spot on small screens.

• Think carefully about what you absolutely need to store on your mobile device, and erase everything else. If it's lost or stolen, you could be placing personal information in someone else's hands.

• Back up your device and check out what security software may be available for it to protect all your information.

• Think before you download an app. Understand what information (i.e., location, your contacts, social networking profiles, etc.) the app would access and share before you download it. Always download apps from trusted sources.

Protect while you connect. More information is available online at

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