You secure your smart phone with a passcode that you need to enter before it springs to life. But just how much protection will this passcode actually give you? The disturbing answer? Not nearly enough, according to a recent story by the tech Web site Lifehacker. The story details the many passcode exploits that hackers have used recently to compromise smart phones. Fortunately, the story does something a lot more comforting, too. It tells users how to best protect the data on their smartphones.
The Lifehacker story highlights the newest passcode exploits which have made it possible for hackers to compromise Apple’s iPhone and the Galaxy Samsung smart phones. The Apple exploit, enabled criminals to get into the iPhone phone app. Hackers didn’t gain total access to phones. Nevertheless they were able to use the app to make phone calls, view pictures and look at or edit users’ contact lists. The exploit focusing on Galaxy smart phones operated in a different way. Hackers could flash the phone’s home screen for just about a second. This gave them enough time to launch apps or start downloading an app that gave them full control over the phone.
As the Lifehacker story says, none of these problems should surprise smart phone users. Passcodes offer protection, nonetheless they have never been failproof. According to Lifehacker, passcodes do no better a job protecting your phone than passwords or PINs do securing your bank accounts or membership Web sites. Hackers can crack your phone’s lock-screen passcode or, in the case of skilled cyber thieves, break into your phone’s hard drive to gain access to your data.
To protect yourself, first make sure that your lock-screen passcode is at least complicated to guess. Lifehacker recommends a passcode consisting of letters, symbols and numbers. Next, make sure to encrypt the data that you store on your smart phone. Lastly, consider paying for services such as Prey or Apple’s Find my iPhone. These services give you the ability to track your phone after it’s stolen or you lose it. Even better, it allows you to eliminate the data stored on it, so that hackers can’t reach it.