Most of us have a nagging feeling that we should have some kind of security in place for the technology we own. Passwords are often used to prevent access to laptops and maybe even individual files. But when it comes to mobile devices, many of us are guilty of a leap of faith.
The fact is mobile devices need the same security precautions. Spyware, corruption and theft can affect your mobile devices as easily as they can your computer – and the information can be just as sensitive.
“The security concerns you would have with a mobile device are the same as with a laptop, because the same type of information and the same ability to access information within a network is also on your mobile device,” says BlackBerry security expert Michael Brown.
Consider what data you have stored on your mobile devices: everything from address books with your important contacts to financial information to emails. Even an innocent email may contain important details about who you are. “In your email itself, there is a lot of sensitive information, and that’s something you want to protect,” says Brown.
Passwords 101: Common Mistakes
Password protecting your device is the key to peace of mind, but not all passwords are created equal. Many of us find we are overwhelmed with passwords for everything from bank accounts to our front doors – and memorizing them can be onerous.
As a result, we write them down or, worse, post them in plain view, making it very easy for a savvy intruder to get at your most private information. Another common mistake is using memory cues to make passwords easier to remember.
Using part of a phone number, family name, social security number or birth date may seem innocuous enough. But the truth is this information is often readily available; anyone looking to gain access to a mobile device is well schooled in how to access these details. Even recycling old passwords to create new ones offers an intruder a helping hand into your mobile data.
Beefing Up Your Password
There is no such thing as a truly impenetrable password, but a strong password should require a lot of time and effort to crack. The best passwords are often longer. Increasing the length of a password by just one character significantly increases the time and effort it takes to guess the exact combination of letters and numbers.
When you create your device password, take into account these elements:
- At least eight characters in length
- A combination of letters of mixed case and numbers
- Known only to the user (i.e., not present in any database)
- Not found in an English or foreign language dictionary
- Never shared
- Never written down
Passwords are just one component of maintaining a secure mobile solution. To learn more about securing your mobile device, download the user guide specific to your device at http://www.blackberry.com/support/documentation/handhelds/index.shtml