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[Editor's Note: today's post is by guest author R. Michelle Green, the Principal for her company, Client Solutions. She is a combination geek girl, personal organizer, and career coach. Michelle helps others improve their use of technology in their personal or professional life. Today, Michelle discusses mobile device security.]

By R. Michelle Green

So you’re really tired of everyone encouraging password use. Tens of articles, on this site alone... But (let the rationalizations begin) you need so many PWs! And everyone wants 8+ digits now, with symbols and stuff! And you live in complete and round-the-clock harmony with your significant other/roommate (and their SOs, family and friends). You’ve never left your laptop/smartphone/tablet unattended, right? (Or outright lost it?...) And you secure your phone/tablet when service people are in your home. And those 50 people you had at your house party last week (bitchin’ party, who were the folks who brought the great dessert and the weird Russian soda?) would never pick up your phone when you weren’t looking, right?

All subtlety aside: stop making excuses and secure your digital home. And first thing – put a password on your smartphone and your tablet.

I pick up people’s devices all the time (with their say so, of course), and I am always amazed if I can access one at will. We all like looking. For me it’s partially envy – I still haven’t bought a smartphone (dammit it’s a phone, and I want better than ‘Fair’ call quality as evaluated by Consumer Reports.). For most of us, it’s curiosity. Pretty pictures, cool apps, oh what’s this game? I’ve never looked in anyone’s medicine cabinet, but I hear it happens frequently. Perhaps such actions are innocuous, like picking up a book or magazine in someone’s home. But my magazines don’t have my bank statement in them, and they can’t access 1-click (the devil’s tool if I’ve ever seen one, there’s a reason the default at Amazon is enabled).

Symantec ran tests to study human behavior with lost smartphones. After leaving 50 phones abandoned in NYC, DC, SF, LA, and Ottawa CA, Symantec observed that 9 of 10 finders routinely trolled through the phone’s personal data. Even the 50% who returned the phone typically attempted to access private data on it first. Sure that might have been an effort to find the owner’s contact info, but you can cut down on opportunistic data loss. Part of good common sense is making it hard for people to behave badly (particularly with your stuff). Half the phones were accessed within the first hour.

As your smartphone transubstantiates into your personal computer, sensitive data becomes way easier to lift than Stephen King’s nearly three pound ‘11/22/63’. I could access my godson’s Facebook page for almost 2 months after his recent visit, despite my shutting down daily. How? He had checked “keep me logged in” when he used my computer. Andy Weir says it well: “You can build the world’s strongest lock, only for someone to absentmindedly leave the door wide open…”

Make sure your mobile device has a password on it, and not 1234, or Password1. Don’t leave yourself logged in on websites. And avoid shortcuts to purchasing that bypass authentication of the buyer or the purchased items. Don’t leave yourself wide open for some Mayhem wannabe to wreak havoc with your digital affairs.


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William Davis

Smart phone brought a new way of living by feed a unique feel in our life with facilities and services. It brought a vast communication age with living in a global village. So it is needed to manage the proper way is very essential for us. Many thanks for your impressive articles.

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