Like almost everyone else in the world, I have a smartphone. In my case it’s a Palm (now HP) Pre. It’s fun to use, and it’s pretty useful–it lets me check my e-mail, surf the web and play Angry Birds. And, of course, it’s a phone too.
But what would happen if I lost it? Or somebody stole it? How much trouble would I be in? I don’t keep my social security number or driver’s license number on it. I do have my bank account numbers in a Memo. And, of course, it is attached to my various e-mail accounts (Wayne Connect, Gmail, AT&T), so anyone who found it could read my e-mail. They couldn’t find my passwords (I have different ones for my Wayne account and the other two) because they are not accessible, but they could send messages from my account, look at my calendar and my contacts. Is this a risk I’m taking? Sure it is, although I’m careful never to put really sensitive material in my phone.
I do access sensitive websites occasionally (such as Wayne Connect through the web browser), but I have to type in a password, and I don’t allow the Pre to store the password and fill it in automatically.
So recently I’ve been experimenting with locking my phone. Now, whenever I turn it on I have to type in a four-digit PIN before it will give me access to the rest of the phone. You can make emergency calls without a PIN, incidentally. And when the phone rings you can answer it without the PIN too.
I have friends with BlackBerries, iPhones and Droids, and they all have the same characteristics. On the Pre it’s on the utility called ‘Screen and Lock’, and it allows you to choose either a password or a 4-digit PIN number. Here’s what the screen looks like:
On the iPhone it’s under Settings > General > Passcode Lock. The passcode screen looks like this:
On the Droid it’s under Settings > Location and Security > Security, and you can choose either a PIN number or a swipe pattern:
So, should you lock your phone? As I said, I’ve been keeping mine locked for about a week, and it’s not too obtrusive. How much of a risk am I running? I have no sensitive university-related data on my phone, and I could probably password-protect my memos and not bother otherwise, since nothing else is risky. I’m not sure where I’m going to go with this, and am interested in others’ thoughts on this. What do you do? What do you think you should do?