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Thursday, June 6, 2013

1373. Lock Your Mobile Device

I see people all the time using their mobile phones and never entering a code to unlock them before they use them. It seems a lot simpler to just start using the device, but it seems like it would be more secure to have an unlock code. Should I bother using the device’s lock feature?

Unequivocally, we suggest that anyone using a portable technology take advantage of any built-in locking mechanism to help prevent information theft. It seems like it would take some unnatural act to extract the device from your hands, but in fact, people lose or leave their devices daily. With that in mind, Ken used to use his iPad without a lock code, and of course, left it on a plane. Amazingly, the airline found and returned his iPad quickly, but not before Ken frantically changed every password for every service he used, knowing that anyone who picked up his iPad would have access to all sorts of private information. You may not think the information on your phone or tablet is sensitive, but think about all of your contact information. Your business associates, friends, and family deserve their privacy.

All modern portable devices offer at least some sort of locking mechanism. If you’re using iOS on an iPhone or iPad, you can select either a simple 4-digit code or a more complex code of any length. We suggest that you consider using the more complex code—the problem with the simple code is that thieves can tell by looking at the screen prompts that you use a 4-digit code, and believe it or not, the grease on your fingers often makes it perfectly clear what the four digits are. Using a more complex code means that a thief has no information about the length of the code. Yes, it may take a while to get used to entering a code each time you use the device, but it’s worth it if the device is lost or stolen. (It’s also worth looking into using the Find My Phone app in iPhones/iPads, or similar features on other devices, which allow you to track the location of your device. Using iOS, you can also use this feature to wipe your device should it be stolen, effectively removing all the content from your device before anyone can access it.)

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