Issue: Storing sensitive data on your mobile device
Threat: Hackers can't count on being around if your phone falls out of your pocket, but your mobile device may be even more valuable than your wallet to a thief, and more vulnerable to loss. Imagine what a malicious hacker could do with access to all of your apps and email accounts.
Defense: If your mobile device leaves your home and can access your email, social media, shopping and especially financial accounts, it needs to be PIN- or password-protected. While you may not want to have to type in the complex string of digits, uppercase letters, lowercase letters and punctuation marks you use for financial accounts, you do want more security than a simple screen slide if someone else finds your device.
To set up a lock-screen passcode in iOS, go to Settings --> General --> Passcode Lock. You can find screen-locking options in Android under the Security options in Settings.
Depending on your mobile OS and management software, you might also be able to have data encrypted. In iOS, some data is encrypted once a passcode is enacted; Android 4.0 will add an encryption password if you enable it. Alternately, you can set your device to automatically wipe its data after a maximum number of failed entry attempts.
Time: Setting up a password or PIN on your device: 2-3 minutes. Inputting your password when you want to use your device: less than a minute.
Is it possible to make your email, social media and other online accounts 100% hack-proof? Probably not. But if you've got an hour to invest, you can shore up your defenses so at least you're a tougher target.
Sharon Machlis is online managing editor at Computerworld. Her e-mail address is email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter @sharon000, on Facebook, on Google+ or by subscribing to her RSS feeds:articles | blogs.
Read more about data security in Computerworld's Data Security Topic Center.