Phone passcodes are far from hacker-proof

May 8th, 2013

You protect your smart phone with a passcode that you need to enter before it springs to life. So how much protection does this passcode actually give you? The troubling answer? Not nearly enough, according to a recent story by the tech Web site Lifehacker. The report details several passcode exploits that hackers have been using recently to compromise smart phones. Thankfully, the story does something a lot more reassuring, too. It tells users the best way to protect the data on their smart phones.

Passcode attacks

According to the Lifehacker story, recent passcode exploits have worked differently based on if hackers were targeting the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phones. For the iPhone, the exploits allowed hackers to get into the Phone app, not the iPhone’s home screen. This meant hackers can use other’s phones to make calls, see users’ contacts and access users’ photos, even though they didn’t gain total access to the phone. For the Galaxy, hackers managed merely to flash phones’ home screens for about a second. This is a small amount of time, but sufficient to permit hackers to launch an app or start downloading one that could unlock your phone completely.

Not foolproof

As these exploits show, having a lock-screen passcode is no guarantee that hackers won’t have the ability get into your phone. As the Lifehacker story says, passcodes today are little more effective at keeping out hackers than are regular passwords. This means you will need to take the extra steps if you wish to secure your phone from cyber criminals.

The protection you need

To protect yourself, first be sure that your lock-screen passcode is at least difficult to guess. Lifehacker recommends a passcode consisting of letters, symbols and numbers. Next, make sure you 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 types of 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.