Dont Become a Victim of Laziness

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-07-13 Print this article Print


If you're using one of those codes, you should change it immediately. Even if News of the World is closed, the rest of Murdoch's employees are out there.

Craig Mathias, principal analyst at Farpoint Group, told eWEEK that it's important to pick a password or PIN that's not easily guessed, which means don't use your birthday or a relative's birthday, your children's names or other easy-to-find-out names or numbers. He also suggest using a PIN longer than four digits. T-Mobile suggests the same thing, and also suggests changing PINs every 60 days. The company has a Web page that provides help for keeping your password secure, and the advice doesn't just apply to T-Mobile customers.

Mathias also suggested that you set your voice mail so that a password is required even when you call from your mobile phone. While some voice mail systems will let you turn off passwords when calling from the phone itself, Mathias said that this is a security risk.

T-Mobile notes that hacking into your cell phone voice mail is a criminal act and suggests that if you know this has happened, you should call the police. Of course, you should also immediately change your PIN or password.

If all of this sounds familiar, it should. It's basically the same advice I gave in my eWEEK column years ago when I wrote about securing your WiFi access point. Far too many people simply plug in the AP and go, meaning that it's remarkably easy to find open access points with SSIDs of "Linksys" or the like near virtually any office building or apartment complex. The reason is that people don't like to take the time to set up even minimal security.

The same basic laziness affects mobile phone users who apparently are in far too much of a hurry to protect themselves, or who must believe such hacking will never happen to them. The truth is, of course, that it does happen and you don't have to be a target of News Corp for it to happen. You could be the target of other types of cyber-criminals, people who are angry with you, who want something you have (like information from your office) or who are part of a relationship gone wrong.

The bottom line is simple. Create a password or PIN for your voice mail. Don't make it the same as your other passwords or PINs. Make it hard to guess. Don't tell anyone what it is. Change it from time to time. It's that simple. 

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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