October 5, 2011

Locked Down: Password Protecting Your Phone

As part of Cyber Security Awareness Month, we conducted a survey on Facebook to learn how many of our fans protect their mobile devices with a password.  The poll showed that approximately 30% of survey respondents didn’t have a password set on their smartphone.  Congratulations Lookout Facebook fans, you are ahead of the curve when it comes to password protecting your phones!  On average, studies have found that 67% of consumers don’t set a password on their mobile device—leaving the majority of smartphones unprotected.

Setting a password on your phone is the first line of defense so only you can access the important data on your phone.  Imagine, if you wanted to protect your house, would you leave the doors unlocked?  Similarly, your phone contains valuable information you want to keep safe: contacts, calendar, files, social network sites, passwords…if this information falls into the wrong hands, a password will help keep all of your sensitive data private.

How to set your password:

For Android, depending on your type of phone, you can select to use a pattern unlock, a personal identification number (PIN), or an alpha-numeric password

  • Tap the menu button from the home screen,
  • Choose Settings > Security > Change Screen Lock. (The exact phrase may vary from phone to phone).

Once you set your security option, you can set how quickly you want the phone to Lock itself (immediately, one minute, two minute five minutes).

  • Tap the menu button from the home screen
  • Security > Lock Phone After (this exact phrase may vary from phone to phone).

For iPhone

  • Click on the Settings button from the home screen
  • From Settings, select General > Passcode Lock
  • This will open the Set Passcode screen.  Enter in your 4-figure code.

You will now be at the Passcode Lock screen. Here you can choose the timing for the lock screen.

Picking A Strong Password

Not all passwords are created equal.  Keep these tips in mind when setting up a strong password for your phone:

  • Avoid simplistic passwords: such as the last four digits of your phone number, or public information (birthday).  As a general rule of thumb, if the passcode information may be available on Facebook—don’t use it for your code.
  • If possible, include characters from each of the following four categories: (upper case letters, lower case letters, characters (!?&), and numbers).
  • If you choose a PIN code, be sure to avoid the top 5 most commonly used (and easily guessed) passwords: 1234, 0000, 2580, 1111, 5555.

By setting a strong password, users can ensure that if their phone is lost or stolen—their data is locked behind a “digital door.”  If you haven’t done so already, set a password on your phone today.  And spread the word…tell your friends to lock up their phones too.

Be sure to stay tuned next week (and all month long) as we highlight tips for keeping your smartphone safe!

9 comments
  1. Mark Leach says:

    Which method would you recommend to password protect an android phone, version 2.1, that does not support the password lock screen?

  2. Everyone really needs to start protecting our personal info SO much more intensely!! Not only has my yahoo account been hacked,and who knows what else…but I know of several other people I have spoken with who have a very similar story!!! And u totally believed I was completely “protected”!!!! I have begun to start looking into just how unprotected our personal info actually is!!! So,take this very seriously,and do the best you can to protect yourself!! I personally feel violated and still feel unsafe and skeptical of almost everything online,including stuff connected with my cell phone!! I pray nobody else has to feel the way I feel now!!! The people that do this stuff are bottom feeders and just too smart for their own good,sadly….and so they use that to attack the innocent who are just simply trying to get buy in the workday,pay our bills,and feel safe…..I think we should at the very least be allowed to do that without someone trying to steak your glory,money,I’D,personal info,etc!!

  3. Helen Maher says:

    I have a lock pattern which I use for my cell, and a different for my tab. Is there anything else else I should do? or is this adequate protection?

  4. alicia says:

    @Helen It’s great that you have two different lock patterns for your cell and tab. As long as they aren’t simplistic — like the last four digits of your phone number, SSN or birthday you’re probably okay.

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