With smartphone theft and hacking on the rise, users should take every precaution to protect their mobile data. Thieves are no longer interested in the devices themselves; the cloud computing paradigm has made hardware, and even software to a certain extent, less valuable to criminals.
What hackers and thieves want these days is to be able to get to the data stored in your smartphone, your SD card and the cloud services you subscribe to. In many cases, they will be able to do so once they get past your lock screen.
If your smartphone or tablet is set to unlock by swiping right, you need to adjust your settings so that a strong passcode or biometric challenge is required. Here are five reasons why you should do this:
1 – A couple of years ago, the chief online safety officer at Microsoft, Jacqueline Beauchere, published a blog post that highlighted the importance of strong mobile passcodes. Her rationale was simple: you are more likely to store sensitive information in your smartphone that in your PC at home.
2 – Passcodes can help you retrieve your stolen mobile device. Modern Internet security suites include features that allow you to recover stolen smartphones through a Web portal activated by means of a passcode. These features typically work with the GPS module embedded in the smartphone or tablet; when the device is stolen, the owner can access an online account and input the passcode to track down the location.
3 – Strong passcodes are very difficult to crack. After the FBI announced that it no longer needed help from Apple to gain access to an iPhone locked with a four-digit PIN, security analysts noted that a 10-digit passcode could take as long as 25 years to crack even with the most advanced supercomputers.
4 – Passcodes are required for encryption purposes. Let’s say you wish to store very sensitive data, such as banking information, in your smartphone. To keep this data secure, you will need to encrypt the document or the flash memory folder where the information is stored. It is highly recommended that you choose a strong password to decrypt the data, and it should be different from the access passcode.
5 – In the future, passcodes and credential for access will become nearly obsolete thanks to biometric scanners. Smartphones and tablets that feature fingerprint readers are the beginning of this security trend, which can be expected to become a standard in the years to come. Passcodes may still be used for verification, but gaining access to online banking may require users to input their fingerprint.