For many of us, a cell phone has become an indispensable tool in our daily life. We use it to communicate with others, to take pictures, and to keep track of our to-do list and calendars. Lots of us have moved to using our phones as a way to pay for goods and services. The companies that develop the software we use on our phones have made it very easy to sync data between our phones and computers, therefore placing much more data on our phones than ever before. Our phones have now become an extension of our computers.
But what would happen if someone got ahold of your computer? What information would they have access to? Do you have a password to protect the data on your computer? Good. Do you have the computer’s drive encryption turned on? Even better. If your computer was stolen, the thief may not be able to access the data and you’d be left to replace the stolen hardware.
You do backup your computer, right?
Now imagine if someone else got ahold of your phone either by finding it or through theft. Does your phone have a password? Is it strong? (1234 is not a strong password even if it is easy to enter.) If someone gets access to your phone can they then use it as a way to steal your identity? Could a thief use the apps and data on your cell phone to find out where you live and look into your house using an app that you have installed in conjunction with your security system? Could confidential work related email be read if someone found your phone lying on your desk while you step out to the bathroom? What about text messages?
Do you use them as a way to communicate private information?
The convenience afforded us by technology comes at a cost. In the case of a cell phone, that cost is complex passwords. Without this complexity, personal information maintained on cell phones may be easily accessed.
Fortunately, the cell phone makers have started to include biometric systems on phones that allow easy access while maintaining security. If your phone has biometric features, you should be using them along with a strong password. Turning on the biometric option while keeping a short, weak password does not get you anywhere. If you have biometric features on your device, turn them on and make your password even stronger.
If your phone does not have a biometric option, you may want to rethink the information that you keep on your phone. Is a four to six-character password enough to keep your financial information safe? Perhaps the convenience gained is not worth the potential cost of loss.
As technology moves forward and provides us with more convenience, you need to stay aware of your options to maximize your security and minimize any potential losses that could occur from losing your devices.
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Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.