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Set a mobile password to protect your device, identity

Set a mobile password to protect your device, identity

12/3/2013

Banking information, credit card data, Social Security number and home address: Chances are, you've stored all or some of these pieces of sensitive information on your smartphone at some point. It's easy to enter identifying data into your mobile device without thinking twice about it. After all, so many of us do our shopping on a tablet or check our bank accounts on an iPhone that it's become commonplace

Of course, these trends are the way of the future, and it's of no use, perhaps, to resist them and the convenience they offer. However, the fact that our mobile devices are full of personally identifying information means it's necessary to look closely at mobile security and the protection we've put in place on our smartphones and tablets.

If you're looking to shore up your mobile defenses, setting a password on your device's lock screen is a key starting point.

Mobile apps not as secure as you may think
The mobile password becomes all the more important when you consider just how many apps most of us have on our devices - and just how unsecure they may actually be.

Research conducted by HP recently revealed that 97 percent of mobile apps contain a security vulnerability. That figure appears particularly dire when considered in light of both personal apps - mobile banking, for instance, as well as retail solutions that store payment card info - and enterprise apps used in bring-your-own-device environments.

"Mobile applications now are the first line of defense against the adversary and organizations must be equipped to assess, assure and protect these applications to prevent damage from exploits," noted Mike Armistead, vice president and general manager for HP's line of enterprise security products, Fortify.

Ensuring password effectiveness
As such, passwords are necessary to establish mobile protection in both personal and corporate environments. Where possible, firms should consider not only requiring BYOD employees to set a passcode for their devices, but also outfitting their apps with passwords.

Additionally, it's important to make sure that your smartphone login code is as strong as possible. The longer and more complex the password, the more difficult it will be for thieves or hackers to break. Lifehacker pointed out that iPhone users running iOS 4 and above have the option to set a long-form password rather than a simple four-digit code. Furthermore, users should create a random login code rather than one that has to do with their names, birthdays or anniversaries, the source recommended.

Meanwhile, Android aficionados are by now used to the login swipe the operating system uses as a passcode. Lifehacker noted that it's crucial for users of the Google platform to create swipe shapes that are not expected - here, too, complexity is key.

The future of logging in
As effective as passwords are as a first line of defense in protecting your devices, some security-minded techies are asking whether a stronger solution may be possible - and at least one team of developers is up for the challenge of creating that tool.

According to Tech Crunch, the startup SlickLogin intends to start a revolution in login credentials by connecting mobile phones and home computers through a unique set of digital sounds that serves as a kind of audio password.

"Here's the idea: as a user, you'd go to whatever SlickLogin-enabled site you'd like to log in to. Tap the login button, hold your phone up close to the laptop and you're in," the news source wrote.

While you wait for the developers at SlickLogin to perfect their software, you can make your smartphone more secure by taking advantage of ProtectCELL's mobile identity protection plans, which provide security beyond what mobile phone insurance offers by protecting both your data and your device.

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