Don’t Fail Mobile Phone Security Basics

Don’t Fail Mobile Phone Security Basics

Adding a password or passcode is one of the most basic but useful strategies for protecting your private data if your mobile phone gets stolen. However, it looks like many Australians can’t be bothered with this simple technique.

Picture by John Biehler

A study of 1,202 Australians by Unisys suggested that just 18% have a password on their mobile devices which they change regularly, and that 58% don’t use a password at all. Quite aside from the financial risk of someone making large numbers of calls on your phone, as we move towards smart phones there’s far more personal data at risk.

Smart phone passwords and passcodes aren’t necessarily complete protection, but they’re definitely a strategy that should be part of your security arsenal.


  • One disadvantage of having a password is that if you lose your phone (not stolen), a benevolent finder can’t just call a number in your contacts (such as Home, Mum etc.) to say that they have it.

    • They could take the SIM out, see what provider it is, call them and give them the SIM ID to get in touch with you…

      But that not only relies on the finder not being a complete bourke, it also means the telco has to be useful, which in most cases would be a stretch…

      Plus, well, they would actually have to _want_ to give it back rather than just wipe it and/or sell it…

  • “financial risk” – the only risk is if you don’t tell your phone company that you have lost your phone. Otherwise it is most likely your family or friends borrowing your phone without you loosing it that is the risk.

    “personal data at risk”? What would be on your phone that would be any interest to the person steeling your phone?
    contacts? yeah call anyone & they know you have the stolen phone.
    photos? – Nude photos? (take them off if you don’t want anyone to see them)
    Music? – if they like your taste.

    Everything on your phone should be Backed up.
    Use online services if you don’t have access to a computer.

    The Risk of a stolen phone is loosing personal data, just like if you dropped your phone in to toilet!

    • A lot of phones are linked to an email service. Someone finds an unlocked phone.
      Looks through internet history to see which online bank is used.
      Requests a password reset with said bank.
      SMS security code is sent to phone to confirm password reset.
      Bank emails new password.
      Phone finder now has your bank account details.

  • I have a iPhone and have a passcode on it. I have a full body protection on phone and have used a permanent black marker to write the home phone number on the back. This will enable the finder of the phone to return it if they wish to do so. This also increases the chance of the phone being returned as the passlocked phone is no good to them. Cheers.

  • Or if you have an android phone you can get tasker, which you can setup so that if you loose your phone you can send it a specific message or email and it’ll lock down/or send you the gps coordinates so you can track it down.

  • I have a blackberry. If locked, it shows my name, company, and landline phone number before you get to the point of attempting to unlock it. I also have a post-it note with details inside the battery case, assuming the phone has run out of charge by the time somebody gets to it.

    For iphones at work, we can’t do much of that – we have them all hooked up to a mobileme account so that we can force messages to the screen remotely with contact details, and you could set your wallpaper to a ‘if found, please contact steve at x’ message…but if the battery is dead, all you could do is engrave or write on the phone case.

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