Don’t think a passcode protects your phone from skilled hackers

You protect your smart phone with a passcode that you must enter before it comes to life. But how much protection does this passcode actually provide? The troubling answer? Not nearly enough, as outlined by a recently available story by the tech Web site Lifehacker. The article details several passcode exploits that hackers have been using recently to compromise smart phones. Fortunately, the story does something a lot more comforting, too. It tells users how to best protect the data on their smartphones.

Passcode exploits

The Lifehacker story examines recent passcode exploits targeting the Samsung Galaxy and iPhone smart phones. Based on the story, the attack against the iPhone allowed hackers to, utilizing the phone app, make phone calls, view photos and modify the contact lists of users. Hackers couldn’t gain full access to the phone, nevertheless they gained enough power to cause plenty of problems for owners. The Samsung exploit functioned differently. Hackers were able to flash the phone’s home screen for about a second. This gave hackers ample time to either launch apps on the phone or start downloading a more dangerous app that allows hackers to gain full control over a smart phone.

Safety not guaranteed

As the Lifehacker story says, none of these problems should surprise smart phone owners. Passcodes provide protection, nevertheless they have never been failproof. As stated by Lifehacker, passcodes do no better a job protecting your phone than passwords or PINs do protecting your bank accounts or membership Web sites. Hackers can either crack your phone's lock-screen passcode or, in the case of skilled cyber thieves, break into your phone's storage to access your data.

The protection you need

To defend yourself, first be sure that your lock-screen passcode is at least complicated to guess. Lifehacker recommends a passcode made up of letters, symbols and numbers. Next, make sure to encrypt the data that you store on your smart phone. Finally, consider paying for services such as Prey or Apple’s Find my iPhone. These services give you the ability to track your phone after it’s stolen or you lose it. Better yet, it allows you to erase the data stored on it, so that hackers can’t reach it.

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