Thursday 23 July 2015

Phone security

Last October I was exhorting us all to put your Next O'Kin in your phone under the name ICE.  I've done a couple of things since then to make this system work more effectively.  First was the reflection that my Nx O'K is quite likely to be in the same disaster that requires some paramedic to dial ICE on my phone.  It won't be helpful if a phone starts ringing in the same mess of twisted metal and spilled fuel - might even spark the final conflagration.  So I've added an ICE2 as a backup - Dau.II, as it happens, a woman with considerable presence of mind and practicality and in the right country.

The second protocol improvement was to resolve to switch the phone ON when I'm about to start a car journey.  Unlike for most of the people my mobile phone is not a permanent prosthesis but what it says on the tin: a mobile phone. When I'm not mobile, t'bugger is OFF, saving battery.  I don't have any friends, so it never goes off in meetings or concerts even if I forget to switch off.

Dau.I had a lost phone adventure ten days ago. Not unlike my own lost and phoned story of 2013. She went off for the weekend and had the phone in the car which gave her a lift back to town. . . but didn't have the phone when she looked for it 2 hours later at home.  She retraced her steps to the car and several times she emptied her bag; which has a lot in common with the Tardis except that there was nothing phoney about it.  It was a bore and an inconvenience but she wrote it off and started afresh with another phone.  Well, two days ago the original instrument resurfaced.  It had fallen from her clobber when she got out of the car.  Someone had helpfully picked it up and put it on a near-by wall, so it was nowhere near the car when she looked a while later.  Someone else had picked it up and taken it home . . . and borrowed a charger . . . scanned through the contacts until he recognised a name . . . called to ask if any of Contact's pals had lost a phone . . . and so it eventually came home to roost.

That Feel-good Story was possible at least partly because of the small-town interconnected world that Dau.I lives in Crustiewold, Gloucs in England. Not unlike the rural-Irish no-privacy world her parents inhabit. But it was also possible because she recognised from the start that PIN protecting your phone is a dumb-ass thing to do.  A PIN makes it difficult for a white-hat to do the right thing as in the story above; whereas if your phone falls to a black-hat then the SIM will be stripped out and tossed so the PIN is useless there.  All the password does is protect you from having your family and flat-mates reading your texts or calling Kiev until the credit runs out.  As your PIN is likely to be the birthday of your BFF or Nx O'K, your untrustworthy roomies will brush aside that sort of security like rice-paper in the rain.

Anyone know how to disable the password - The Boy's birthday as you ask - on my phone?  And no, the PIN on my Debit card is different.

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