Some simple ways to protect your cell phone information

I was at the apple store today because i had to replace my iPhone.  It had a bad switch on it that would not let me put it in vibrate any more.  Apple resolved the problem problem my giving me a new phone.  This was a good answer for me as I have a phone that works for vibrate.

So why am I writing about this then.  Simple, I just gave someone I do not know a fully functioning, fully loaded cell phone with all my data and information on it.  Now I realize, that neither apple, or it’s employees are likely to want or care about my cell phone but what if…

What if my phone had been stolen instead, or what if I had purchased the phone from a kiosk, or a private vendor.  This vendor honors the warranty for the phone and replaces it.  I have now given the vendor all the private information on my phone. At the very least they can look though any pictures that may reside on the phone, or look though my phone book for numbers of people I may know.

There are a couple more what if’s I would like to point out:
What if I happen to know someone famous and their private number is in my phone?
What if I have attached pictures / text messages of a person that should not be in public?
What if I have stored my password or critical information in the notes section of a contact?

This now leaves my data very vulnerable to whoever might not be quite as nice as I am.  I have now lost control of some very personal information.

So what can you do to prevent this from being a problem. I believe there are a couple ways to help mitigate the exposure of your data.  Most smart phones have a method to lock your phone.  This will require you to put in a password to unlock your phone for use.  The second is not on all phones but i believe it is still available on many including my iPhone.  The second method is a followup to the first.  The second method is a phone wipe.

You set the first and second by going to the following:

Settings on the phone

General iPhone Screen

Picture of the iphone screen for settings


General on the iphone screen

This is the General Tab on the iphone screen

Passcode Lock

Passcode Lock screen on the iphone

Passcode Lock screen on the IPhone

Enter your 4 digit code

Passcode Screen

Passcode screen for the Iphone

Re-enter your 4 digit code

Erase Phone screen

Erase Phone screen of the Iphone

I want to point out above the erase data is now set to 10 failed attempts

This combination of security measures will do the best to help you in your fight to keep your data private.  The final option is the remote wipe.  This option is not always available but in the case of an iPhone it can be done if you have Mobile Me from apple.  This is also something many blackberries have full access to as well when running on an exchange server.

Happy safe computing!!!

Have you Googled yourself lately?

I know, you are think why would I want to Google myself.  How could this possibly be security related?  Am not so vain I have to see what is listed about me?

Answer: YES, yes it is!

Here is my thought process on this.  Social Engineering, it is a clear and present danger to you, your business, your family.  I have spoke of passwords on several occasions, well when you tie in a Google search to yourself, you find a LOT of data out there that can arm a bad guy with a place to start gaining control of your identity.

Anthony Gartner - Google Search

I spoke in earlier posts that human nature is to use a password that is something you will remember.  Anniversary dates, kids names, pets are all fair game to user for passwords.  While this is a bad idea it is very common.  So based on the Google search you will find my web site.  This gives you both my name, my wife’s name, and my sons name. (cats name is Kitty) Don’t worry none of my passwords match any of these so don’t try :).

Image of Web site

So armed with the above information, if you have a password that is family related for ease, please stop reading this and go change it.

Another reason to do a search is to simply know what kind of things really are being said about you.  This is important if you ever go to apply for a job, security clearance, or even dating now.  If there are things being shown that you are unaware of you can research why they are there and ask the owner to withdraw it or adjust it.  Knowledge is the key!!!

So go do an Existential search on yourself!!!