3DSC 2.24: Smartphone Security Part II

Today’s task is to encrypt your device and put a (better) passcode on it.  I realize that most of you probably have a passcode on your mobile phone, but many out there don’t.  Even if you do I want to make those passcodes better; this is a critical step in smartphone security.  Phones are much more easily lost or stolen than your laptop and they carry a wealth of information about you.  You should protect the data that is on your phone.

Difficulty: Easy
Active Time: 10 minutes
What it protects you From: Device exploitation, forensic examination

While a password on a smartphone would be better than a passcode, the inconvenience of a tiny keyboard is hard for even me to tolerate.  We can make passcodes better though.  To make them better, make them longer.  You don’t need to go crazy; even a one-digit increase in length makes your passcode stronger by a power of ten.  Your passcode should not be a simple four- or six-digit passcode (especially in iOS, see below).

Android-specific:  If you have an Android device you have several options for unlocking your phone.  First, and most importantly, I recommend NOT using a pattern to unlock your device.  Patterns leave traces of themselves on your screen, and most of them are notoriously predictable. I generally recommend the numeric passcode of 8 or more characters.

You should also encrypt your Android phone.  I have written fairly exhaustively about this (both here and in Complete Privacy & Security) but many Android phones are still shipping without encryption enabled.  To encrypt your Android phone open Settings >> Security >> Encrypt.  If your phone is already encrypted this option will be greyed out.  If it is not, you will need to charge your phone to at least 80%.  Leave it plugged in and choose encrypt; if your phone allows the option of encrypting the SD card, you should.

Smartphone Security I

iOS:  I have written at great length about iOS passcodes this year, and won’t duplicate that effort here. Each article is linked below:

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