Savvy Security for Smartphone Addicts

Smartphones – they’re like part of the human body, aren’t they? Part everyday communication tool, part business asset, part entertainment centre, part comfort blanket,  they’ve become so ubiquitous as to be indispensable.

But you have to unplug yourself, put it down and leave it alone sometimes… and that’s where your phone or tablet can be lost or stolen, any old random can gain access to your personal and business data, and the problems can start. Did you know that technically, if you leave your smartphone unattended and unlocked, it’s a breach of data security laws if someone gets in – on their part and on yours?

The easiest way to deter thieves (and general nosey-parkers) is to set a lock operated by a PIN, password or fingerprint scanner.

Device-specific locking mechanisms can be set up relatively easily with a timeout period, pattern and code to suit your needs. Here are the inroads:

  • On an iPhone: Go to Settings > General > Passcode Lock.
  • On Android: Go to Settings > Location & Security > Set up Screen Lock. Timeout setup can be arranged by going to Settings then Display.
  • On a BlackBerry: Go to Options > Security Options > General Settings > Password.
  • On a Windows Phone7: Go to Settings then Lock & Wallpaper and take it from there.

A word about letting your fingers do the locking…

Fingerprint ID is good but not totally foolproof. It isn’t proven that fingerprints are totally unique and it’s believed that family members can share aspects of particular patterns and combinations (we personally know cases of a mother and son, and of fraternal twins, who can open the same iPad fingerprint scanner). As we get older, too, the skin of our fingerprints loses elasticity and the patterns become harder to identify – in extreme cases this can erase the fingerprints totally.

And be aware that if you use a join-the-dots swipe pattern to lock your phone, a very determined thief may be able to trace the pattern by smudges your finger leaves on the screen when you use that lock method.