When my wife’s iPhone was stolen in Paris I was very happy that we had the ability to remotely lock and wipe it. But the fact that it wasn’t locked with PIN had me frantically changing email and bank account passwords at 5 in the morning.
Why the worry?
Most smartphones receive your email without the need to enter a password. They also receive bank, PayPal and credit card statements and are used by these institutions as a place to confirm a password reset. This information can be used to access your bank account, reset your password and, once that has happened you can kiss your money good bye.
And phone theft is on a steep climb. In New York City, cellphone thefts make up more than half of all street crime, with iPhones being the most popular item. In fact Infoworld has produced an interesting interactive map showing where cell phones are stolen in San Francisco which you can see here.
My early morning panic could have been significantly reduced with a simple PIN added to the phone.
I know having to enter a PIN is a pain but you don’t have to set it up to ask for the PIN every time – every 15 minutes is plenty. That’s because the first thing most thieves do is to power down your phone so that you can’t track them. When a phone is powered up again the PIN is requested even if it was last entered just a few minutes ago.
Other things you can do to keep your data safe include if your phone gets stolen include:
- Don’t store a list of passwords, PINs or personally identifying information on your phone. If you must (and let’s face it, it’s too tempting not to) then use an app that asks for a master password.
- Set up the phone so that you can find, lock and wipe your phone remotely. For the iPhone use the Find my iPhone service available through iCloud. I found a similar one on the Google Play store called Where’s my Droid but haven’t used it myself.
- Back up all of your data to a PC or the cloud. I was able to have my wife’s new phone up and running in minutes with everything just as it was before she left because we had this.
If you’ve taken the right steps to protect yourself, losing your phone will be just an annoyance. But if you’ve failed to safeguard your phone with a password, backing up all your data and installing a program that can wipe the phones data remotely, you are setting yourself up for a seriously traumatic event.
On Saturday I woke up to find a strange message waiting for me on my iPhone. The message said “Carrier Settings Updated: New settings required for your device have been installed.” Being the paranoid sort I decided to find out what the heck was going on!
It turns out that U.S. carrier AT&T announced Friday that its subscribers will soon start receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts to their iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 devices. Text notifications will include AMBER, Imminent Threat and Presidential Alerts and will be enabled following an upcoming carrier update pushed out to iPhone devices running iOS 6.1 or later.
Of the three types of alerts, users will be able to disable AMBER and Imminent Threat alerts. Presidential alerts, which are sent straight from the President (or a delegate), can’t be turned off…
According to the AT&T blog:
When the software update is delivered to your phone, you will see a message that states “Carrier Settings Update: new settings required for your device have been installed”.
After that, your iPhone 5 or 4S will receive all Wireless Emergency Alerts by default.
This carrier update is mandatory.
The good news is that these types of alerts won’t count against your messaging plan. The bad news is that the Government feels it’s perfectly OK for them to mess with your phone (you bought it with your own money right?) and require that you receive these messages. Yes I said require because you can turn off Amber alert imminent threat notifications, but not the Presidential Alerts .
The timing has to be interesting considering all the hoopla about the NSA listening in on people. Surely one has to wonder what other ‘features’ were installed along with this mandatory roll out that we were not told about? And if you can’t turn off the Presidential alerts then you just know that someone is trying to figure out a legitimate angle to send information about their political agenda to the unsuspecting public.
Personally I like the idea of being warned there’s a tornado headed my way but I already get that from Nixle and I didn’t have to a government agency mess with my phone to get it.
Security researchers say they’ve uncovered a weakness in iPhones that force users to connect to Wi-Fi networks that can then steal passwords or other sensitive information.
AT&T iPhones instruct the devices to automatically connect to a Wi-Fi network called attwifi when the signal becomes available, a service designed to speed up browsing. But attackers can set up their own rogue Wi-Fi networks with the same name and collect sensitive data as it passes through. AT&T are not the only company that are doing this, so don’t be smug if you have another carrier.
Researchers tested their hypothesis by setting up several Wi-Fi networks in public areas that used the same SSIDs as official carrier networks. During a presentation on Wednesday at the International Cyber Security Conference, the Skycure researchers set up a network that 448 people connected to during a two-and-a-half-hour period.
The most effective way to prevent iPhones from connecting to networks without the user’s knowledge is to turn off Wi-Fi whenever it’s not needed. Apps are also available that give users control over what SSIDs an iPhone will and won’t connect to.
via iPhones can auto-connect to rogue Wi-Fi networks, researchers warn | Ars Technica.