Mobile phones have steadily increased their functionality with advanced internet, multimedia and PDA options, which have enabled them to contain and compound financial, business and personal information. Unfortunately, like computers and mailboxes, mobile phones are not free from security threats.
Though advanced mobile security options do exist, such as mobile applications and mobile security software programs that offer firewall and antivirus protection against potential threats, some of the most effective options are also the easiest. Chief among these options is developing and using strong protective passwords.
Developing a strong protective password begins with the password itself. Though email and other privacy-protected accounts have special disable functions for repeated password attempts, mobile phones themselves typically do not, allowing unauthorized users an advantage of time and trial to circumvent the password.
Though there are countless ways to develop a strong and effective password for your mobile phone, here are some basics:
- Use numbers and symbols: use of numbers and symbols is crucial to developing a strong password. Using non-letter characters in your password will make it thousands of times stronger than a password composed of alphabetical characters alone.
- Make it longer: A 15-character password composed of random letters and numbers is 33,000 times stronger than a password half its length. Though difficult passwords can be more difficult to remember, they are also more difficult and border on impossible to break.
- Err on the side of complexity: passwords are meant to be a hindrance. Though it might seem like you’re doing yourself a favor by keeping it on the simple side, you are actually making it simpler for criminals to break.
- Change regularly: To maintain password strength, change your password every few months.
- Keep it safe: If your mobile phone offers security questions for forgotten passwords, remember to avoid answers that a quick background check or online search could provide. Home towns, schools, dates of birth and other information can easily be obtained. If your mobile phone doesn’t offer security questions for forgotten passwords, write down your password and store it somewhere safe.
On the other hand, here are some things to avoid when developing a strong password:
- Avoid sequences or repeated letters and numbers: Adjacent letters and numbers or repeated characters do very little to insure the security of a password. In fact, sequenced or repeated character passwords are oftentimes even less safe than actual words.
- Avoid the obvious: Any part of your name, birthday, identification numbers and other similar personal information is typically the first articles attempted by criminals.
- Forget the dictionary: Though the likelihood of passwords with more characters being broken is smaller, passwords that contain alphabetical characters only, even those that aren’t words, are the easiest to break. If it’s in the dictionary, even if misspelled or written in reverse order, there is a strong chance that it is breakable; worse, many mobile phones feature touchtone text features, making a password breach even easier.
- Avoid universal passwords: The problem with passwords used for more than one account or security function is that if one account or security function is compromised, the rest are all at risk. And given the fact that some accounts and security functions, such as email accounts and others, typically offer security questions for forgotten passwords that can easily be guessed makes this even more important. Using different passwords for each account or security function is crucial for protection.
- Never email or text-message passwords: Even with trusted sources, passwords revealed by email or text message can be compromised by hackers and other criminals.
Now that you know the basics, try them out yourself.
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