Ask Archer: “Should I have a password on my phone?

You ask, we answer!

This question came up during our Ask Archer live show on Facebook, where you get to ask your questions about security.

“Should I have a password on my phone?” asked Rachelle.

Watch here:

 

 

Phone password or fingerprint lock?

Many people don’t have one. A study last year showed that more than one out of four people don’t put any kind of code, lock or protection on their phones.

That’s a mistake, said Patrick C. Miller with Archer International.

“Your phone is your personal life,” he explained. “People don’t realize just how much about you is on your phone.”

A simple four-number barrier or a fingerprint will make it harder for someone trying to get access to your entire life, he advised.

Not Just a Phone

What can crooks do with your phone? 

Miller explains from an attacker’s perspective.

“If you lose your phone and it’s not protected with a passcode, there is enough information in there for me to ruin your life, without question,” he said. “And fairly easily. Your whole life is in your phone.”

“I can infer and I can aggregate enough information from your phone to usually get into your bank account or get access to your credit cards,” he added.

 

A study released in 2017 found more than 1 out of 4 people do not put a passcode or lock on their phones. Image credit: JESHOOTScom

 

An attacker could look through your e-mail, find a message from your bank and call them up, pretending to be you.

They could use the security code the bank sends to your phone to get into your account and take your money.

“There are lots of ways to get information out of phones,” Miller said. “It can be pretty damaging.”

More than Cash

Attackers don’t always want your money.

“One of the more interesting and insidious things — if they get access to the phone — they will start posting some very damaging things, for example, to social media for reputational damage,” Miller said.

They can send a bomb threat from your phone and have the SWAT team show up at your house.

Police arrested a Florida woman last week for allegedly trying to extort money from a man who left his phone unattended for a few minutes at a bar.

They said she accessed the phone and began sending text messages saying she wanted $300 or she would tell the man’s wife they were having an affair.

 

Police post a link to a news story about a woman accused of using an unattended phone in her extortion scheme. Image: Davie Police Department/Facebook

 

“There are all kinds of awful things that could happen just by someone getting access to your phone,” he said. “I would treat it like it’s actually more important than your wallet in terms of getting lost.”

Some people write their passwords down in a note file on their phones.

“You can find a lot of information tucked away in the corners,” said Miller.

“Just put a four-character, four-number PIN on there, at a minimum. And not 1-2-3-4, because that is the first thing they are going to try.”

 

See more Ask Archer questions & answers:

Which operating system is secure on a computer?

How often should I turn off my phone?

Should I pay for antivirus protection?