Keeping Data Secure Is Worth a Little Inconvenience

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-06-10 Print this article Print

5. Stay off 3G wherever possible

Although AT&T's 3G network has enjoyed relative security thus far, iPad owners should keep their tablets off the network as much as possible. When connecting over 3G, users are at the mercy of the network. They don't necessarily know that it's secure at all times, and they need to rely on the quality of AT&T's service. But when surfing the Web on a WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access)-protected router in their homes, they have more control over security settings and what can be done to keep data secure. Little changes like that can go a long way in keeping iPad data safe and secure.

6. Remember Windows rules apply

iPads may not be running Windows, but some of the lessons learned in the PC ecosystem still apply in the iPad world. For instance, surfing to unknown, untrusted sites is never a good idea. Users should also refrain from opening attachments sent by people they don't know. Unfortunately, these simple rules just aren't followed by many iPad owners because they believe they're safe. As AT&T's network snafu has shown, there is no one who is absolutely safe from danger. Maintaining vigilance when using the iPad is the most important component of keeping it secure.

7. Physical security matters too

Physical security doesn't always get the kind of play that network security does, but it's arguably more important. If users really want to keep their sensitive information private, they need to be more careful with the iPad. They shouldn't leave it on the table at a Starbucks when they pick up their drink at the counter. They also shouldn't leave it lying around in plain view in the office for anyone to pick up. Those who want to steal sensitive information would rather have the device in hand than connect to it from other parts of the world.

8. Trust is a dangerous thing

Trust can wreak havoc on a person's life when it comes to computer security. There's little debating that there are few, if any, Websites that should be absolutely trusted. Not even e-mails from friends can be trusted, especially if they include unexpected attachments. In too many cases, Web users believe that simply because they have been to a site each and every day for the past three years, they will remain safe on that site. That's a faulty belief. With some simple phishing scams or spoofing, all kinds of trouble can erupt. Don't trust anything-even when using the iPad.

9. Passwords mean everything

Passwords are extremely important. With strong passwords, users can have a little more peace of mind if an iPad is stolen and is in the hands of a malicious hacker. Too often, folks use the same passwords for all their different online identities. The password someone uses to log in to Gmail is the same password he uses for online banking. The password he inputs to tweet with friends is the same as the code he uses when he needs to pay down his credit card balance. That's not a good thing. As soon as attackers have one password, they will try it everywhere else. At the same time, the difficulty of breaking a password must always be kept in mind. iPad owners can't use "1234" for a password. They should be using alphanumeric passwords that have capital letters and symbols. It might sound like a pain to type in such passwords every time, but owners will be happy they did so if the iPad is stolen.

10. Lock it down

The iPad comes with password protection. And anyone who wants to keep data safe should lock it down with a strong password. In the iPad's settings menu, owners can opt to turn on the device's passcode lock. Once this has been done, every time the screen is turned on, users will be required to input a password to access the iPad's home page. Again, it's a pain for those who don't want to have to input a passcode each time. But when it comes to security and the safety of private data, it's arguably one of the best things a user can do.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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