Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices contain sensitive data. If a mobile device is lost, anyone that finds the device has access to contacts, text messages, and web accounts. One method to help prevent theft of private information from mobile devices is to use a passcode lock. A passcode lock locks a device and puts it in a power-saving state. The lock can also be delayed to engage after a specified amount of time passes after the device goes into the power-saving state. One common method for placing a mobile device into a sleep state is by quickly pressing the main power button. The device can also be set to enter a sleep state after a certain amount of time.
Many different types of passcode locks are available, as shown in Figure 1. Some types of passcode locks are more difficult to guess than others. The passcode must be entered each time the device is turned on or resumes from a power-saving state. These are some common types of passcode locks:
- None - Removes any other type of passcode lock if there is one set.
- Slide - The user slides an icon, such as a lock or arrow, to unlock the device. This option is the least secure.
- Face Unlock - Uses the camera to recognize faces. After a stored face is recognized, the device unlocks.
- Pattern - Locks the device when the user slides a finger over the screen in a certain pattern. To unlock the device, the exact pattern must be repeated on the screen.
- PIN - Uses a private pin to secure the device. When the pin is entered correctly, the device unlocks.
- Password - Uses a password to secure the device. This option is the least convenient, especially if the word is complicated or long, but can be the most secure.
- Simple Passcode - iOS devices only. When this option is set to On, the passcode must be a four-digit number. When set to Off, more complex passwords using characters, numbers, and symbols can be used.
After a passcode is set, it must be entered each time the device is turned on or resumes from a power saving state.
To set a passcode on an Android device, use the following path:
Settings > Location & Security > Screen Lock. Choose the type of passcode to use from the list, and set the remaining Screen Security settings.
To set a passcode on an iOS device, use the following path:
Settings > General > Passcode lock > Turn Passcode On. Enter a four-digit number, as shown in Figure 2. Enter the same number a second time for verification.
If the passcode for an iOS device is forgotten, you must connect it to the computer to which it was last synchronized and a restore must be performed in iTunes.
You must also perform a restore for an Android device. This is accomplished by holding down the volume buttons while turning the power on, after which a restore option is presented. Check with the manufacturer of your Android device for specific instructions.