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You know you should do it. I know I should do it. And yet, none of us does it.
Code-locking your phone is the single easiest thing you can do make your personal information incredibly more secure. But because it adds a minor annoyance to our lives, almost no one bothers.
An unlocked phone is an open invitation for thieves to pillage your life on a level that makes household burglary look like a stolen hubcap. Your contacts, your calendar, your ma ps, your Facebook, your e-mails, your photos, your texts, your Tweets...the scope of information available in today's phones is terrifying when you imagine it falling into the wrong hands.
That's exactly what happened to the wife of Chicago Tribune columnist Mark Bazer, who wrote a popular piece last week called "Congratulations on your new iPhone!" Bazer's writeup walked the thief through the many great features of the phone, which had been snatched right out of the owner's hands while she was waiting for a train:
"My wife, in the one whole month she was using your phone, downloaded some great apps for you. The Facebook app, for example, works just like regular Facebook, and should allow you to easily join the Facebook Groups "iPhone Thieves" and "People Who Make Other People Cry."
"My wife also downloaded a great app to help if you're planning to redecorate your home, another if you're looking to get into pilates, and another that helps locate the nearest pawn shop."
While Bazer's column conveys the frustration of a stolen phone, what he doesn't discuss (perhaps because it's not funny at all) is how your entire identity is left vulnerable when a phone gets grabbed.
Whatever your phone model, I'm willing to bet it's got a PIN-lock system that won't add too much frustration to your life.
The iPhone offers several settings that make the code a little less cumbersome for daily use. For example, you can set your phone to go idle every minute for power saving, but only require a password every five or 15 minutes.
If you want some Mission Impossible-level protection, you can turn on a setting that erases all data on your iPhone after 10 failed passcode attempts. (All these options can be found in the "Passcode Lock" section of your iPhone's Settings menu.
Whatever your phone model, please consider taking this small step toward better security in a disarmingly dangerous world. This isn't like asking you to use the parking brake every time you leave the car. It's like asking you to take your keys and your kids with you.Estimated time needed: 1 minute.
Benefits: Improved security for your data, your identity and your life in general.
Coming tomorrow: OK, enough doom and gloom about security. Let's talk about shopping!