Custody and transference

These days, we matter-of-factly store lots of data on mobile devices, university-issued as well as privately-owned. Apart from contacts, messages and emails, we also maintain images and documents that should never fall into the wrong hands, due to the private or professional nature of the data.

To ensure this doesn't happen, it is not only important to use the devices securely but to consider the matters of custody and transference, as well.

Keep the following recommendations in mind:

Never leave the device unattended

  • An unattended laptop in the library can quickly disappear. Refer to "University library thieves: laptop disappears, including thesis." (website in German)
  • Smartphones lying out in the open on a desk can also be tempting for the opportunistic thief.
  • Plus: spyware is quickly installed on unattended devices. A professional requires only a couple of minutes.

Don't hand over your device

This also harbors the risk that unauthorized persons will take note of the content.

It also brings with it the risk that spyware or malware will be installed on the device.

Prevent shoulder surfing

We can still recall a time when passengers in public transport read other people's newspapers. The modern version is shoulder surfing, which describes looking on as someone plays a game on their smartphone or reads a message as we type. While the act of reading someone else's newspaper is perhaps nothing more than an annoyance, reading the electronic communications of others is troublesome.  If it involves business communications, then it even violates industrial or corporate confidentiality policies. 

Two things can help combat this situation:

  • Privacy filters are available for both smartphones/tablets and laptops. Adhesive films are used for smartphones. For laptops, a screen is inserted into a holder installed on the front of the device, which can be removed at any time.
  • You can also sit with your back against the wall of the train to more easily notice if someone is sitting at your side.

Before returning a university-issued device: restore the factory settings

If you want to return a university-issued device, delete all of the data first. Smartphones and tablets can normally be restored to the factory settings to delete the data. If it's a laptop, the hard drive should be formatted.

Instructions for factory resets are available here.

The following steps are recommended in addition:

  • Remove the SIM card. Once we insert the SIM card, we rarely give the small piece of plastic any further thought. When returning a device, check whether the SIM card must be returned, as well.
  • Removing/deleting SD cards: To avoid divulging personal data, either remove the SD card from the device or delete the data. To be even safer, re-format the SD card. Continue to instructions.


Report lost devices

If you lose a device, you are obligated to report it to central administration (refer to Service Compass Legal and Security Office - damage claims), as well as to (refer to Central IT Notification Center).