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Protect your smartphone! A brief PSA

Mar 11, 2014 // Dan Yelin

With all the recent focus on protecting your online accounts, it’s easy to lose sight of the low hanging fruit: your smartphone. Their increasing popularity has made them a big and growing target for hackers seeking to access your information. The staggering number of apps has made it possible for you to do just about everything from checking your email to depositing a check while tweeting about the weather–all in under 60 seconds. To help streamline the user experience, most of these apps don’t require you to sign in every time you access your accounts, which leaves your phone’s passcode as the last line of defense to any would-be intruder.

While most of us have the common sense to protect our phones with some sort of passcode, we tend to default to simple phrases like “0000” or “1234.” Saurabh Harit, an IT professional and smartphone expert, said at a recent security conference in Vancouver that “If you put some effort into setting a good password, you can protect your phone…I know it’s not very convenient to type an eight-digit password or an alpha-numeric password…but that’s the least you can do to protect yourself.”

There are only 10,000 possible combinations in a four digit numerical code, which makes it possible for anyone with enough time and patience to crack your phone. The number of combinations rises to 1 million if you use 6 digits, and 100 million if you use 8 digits. While this won’t protect against determined tech savvy thieves, it will make it harder for unwanted users to access your personal information. Sadly, we all can’t rely on a thief to incriminate himself with a selfie.