As people increasingly use their mobile devices – laptops, smart phones and tablets – for personal as well as professional purposes, they also increase the risk that they’ll fall victim to hackers.

Since iPads are rapidly becoming the mobile devices of choice, here are 10 tips from the National Security Agency to help you make your iPad more secure.

  1. First and foremost, keep your iOS up to date. As with Windows, you can set your Mac OS X to automatically check for updates. Give permission for the updates to be installed on your computer as soon as you’re notified.  To keep your iPad up to date, you must connect to a host that runs iTunes. The NSA recommends doing this at least once a month or just prior to traveling if you plan to use your iPad during your trip.
  2. Keep third-party software, such as security software, up to date. Whenever possible, set up the program to automatically search for updates.
  3. Be selective about how you use your administrator account. The NSA recommends only using your administrator login for software updates and installations. For day-to-day Web browsing and business operations, you should create a separate “user” account. “Browsing the Web or reading email as an administrator provides an effective means for an  adversary to gain persistence on your host,” the NSA cautions.
  4. The iPad has a data protection feature, which protects the hardware encryption keys with a passcode, that once enabled, will enhance your device’s existing hardware encryption.
  5. For the most secure wireless protection, use the Wireless Protected Access 2 (WPA2) rather than Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which modern innovations have rendered virtually obsolete.
  6. Disable remote administration. This might not be a viable option for those who use their iPads for work.
  7. Choose an alternative domain name server (DNS) provider.  The ones that Internet Service Providers (ISP) usually provide don’t offer security features like blocking malicious or infected websites. The NSA suggests using open source or commercial DNS providers instead.
  8. Use strong passwords. You should never use passwords that are easy to guess, such as your birth date or the word password, as your password. You should have a strong password to log on to your device and for every account you have on the Internet. It can be difficult to remember a lot of different, complicated passwords, so go ahead and write them down, just make sure you keep them tucked away in a safe place.
  9. Avoid using login information in wireless hot spots. It might seem convenient to work in Starbucks instead of the office, but those networks are not secure. If you have your own 3G or 4G wireless device for connecting to the Internet, it would be much safer to use that.
  10.  Enable SSL encryption. This will protect your information while it’s traveling from one point to another. If you can, the NSA recommends forcing your Web browser to use SSL encryption. If you see a lock icon next to the URL in your browser or in the status bar of the sight you’re on, that means that SSL is enabled.

Since the iPad’s popularity continues to grow in leaps and bounds, it’s a good idea for everyone to learn to how to keep his device safe from hackers and other external threats.