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According to ConsumerReports.org, about 3.1 million devices were stolen in the US last year, nearly double the amount compared to 2012. Stolen phones are a popular target for thieves because they represent big money.
An interesting aspect of the Consumer Reports’ research is that only a small portion of users install anti-theft apps or use the screen lock feature on their mobile devices.
Businesses should remember that with the BYOD trend, mobile devices become targets for data and identify theft, or for even more advanced security attacks. Unlike PCs and laptops, it only takes a few minutes to install spyware or malware on a mobile device. It doesn’t even need to be stolen. You can search the Internet and find companies that offer mobile spy apps that can be installed to monitor and record all activities on Android or iOS devices. If the screen lock is not configured, spyware can be implanted on an unattended device while the user goes to the restroom!
The number of stolen devices is one reason we are introducing centrally managed Anti-theft for our Freedome for Business solution. Companies can create mobile profiles in the Protection Service for Business portal and enforce the use of screen auto-lock on employees’ Android and iOS devices. When defining a mobile profile, you can choose your passcode requirement – from a simple PIN to a strong password. Additionally, a mobile profile can control the number of failed passcode attempts allowed before a device is automatically wiped.
Note that even though a simple 4 digit PIN code is quite an effective measure to prevent unauthorized access to a mobile device, it may still be easy to get past the lock screen. As it has been recently reported, anyone can buy special hardware that could allow the user to unlock almost any iOS device in less than a week. To prevent such “brute force attacks”, we’d recommend to use Strict or define a custom passcode policy with longer than 4 digit code. Using an 8 digit PIN code would take about 125 years to crack.
And yes, if the user forgets their auto-lock password, it is easy to reset it. And of course, if something bad happens after all and a device is lost or stolen, it is possible to lock or completely wipe it remotely from the Protection Service for Business portal.