How much protection does your phone’s passcode really provide?

May 8, 2013
Hackers are becoming increasingly clever when it comes to gaining access to the data stored on smart phones. And hackers are accomplishing this even when consumers protect their phones with lock-screen passcodes. As a recent story on the Lifehacker technology Web site says, passcodes never have been a completely foolproof way to secure your smart phone. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to better defend your phone. And there are solutions you can enlist to protect yourself if you’ve lost your smart phone or someone has swiped it.


Passcode attacks

The Lifehacker story examines recent passcode exploits targeting the Samsung Galaxy and iPhone smart phones. Based on the story, the attack on the iPhone enabled hackers to, using 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 had the ability to flash the phone’s home screen for approximately a second. This gave hackers enough time to either launch apps on the phone or start downloading a more dangerous app that allows hackers to gain full control over the device.


Safety not guaranteed

The Lifehacker story proves that passcodes are not a magic pill to stop smart phone hackers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. As the Lifehacker story says, passcodes have never been stronger than standard passwords when it comes to protecting smart phones. Hackers have long been able to crack lock-screen passcodes. They’ve been able to get into the hard drives of smart phones to gain access to the data stored there.



Lifehacker does offer some suggestions for protecting your phone. First, set up a passcode for your phone’s lock screen that is consisting of symbols, letters and numbers. These passcodes are far harder for thieves to crack. Next, encrypt your phone’s data. Lastly, sign up for services like Find My iPhone from Apple or the third-party app Prey. These nifty apps allow you track your phone if it’s stolen or you’ve lost it. You can then remotely erase the data stored on it, protecting yourself from hackers.

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