10 Ways to Keep Data Private, Secure on the iPad

News Analysis: A security problem involving 3G network provider AT&T's Website allowed over 100,000 iPad 3G owners' e-mail addresses to seep out into the wild. Such an occurrence calls for some tips on how to keep data private and secure on Apple's tablet.

AT&T has confirmed that the e-mail addresses of over 100,000 iPad 3G owners using its 3G network have been exposed. According to the carrier, it first learned of the issue on June 7 and resolved it on June 8.

Admittedly, AT&T's security breach isn't all that groundbreaking. If only e-mail addresses were stolen, it's not the end of the world, since that wouldn't be enough to use to steal more private information.

But that doesn't mean it's the end of the story. The iPad is just like any other computer, complete with the potential to access sensitive information. Realizing that, it's incumbent upon iPad owners to engage in practices and use software that will make it easier for them to keep their private data secure.

Unfortunately, no product is safe from the crosshairs of malicious hackers. Try as consumers might to use products that will keep them secure, all it takes is one mistake or a network flaw beyond their control to wreak havoc on their personal lives. Let's take a look at some things that iPad owners can do to keep their data private and secure.
1. Keep syncing

It might sound rather simplistic, but users should keep syncing their iPads with their computers as often as possible. The reason why is twofold. For one, the desktop computer acts as a removable storage device for the data on the tablet. Secondly, Windows machines or Mac OS X computers have better security controls than the iPad. If data is extremely important and consumers want to keep it away from prying eyes, having it in a more secure environment is always preferable.
2. MobileMe data service

The MobileMe service, which costs $99 per year, is arguably one of the best ways to ensure that an iPad's contents will be secure in the event of theft. The MobileMe software, which syncs a user's many Apple devices through the cloud, includes a "Find My iPad" option. When used, it automatically locates the device if misplaced or stolen. Once the iPad is found, the owner can lock it down so that whoever has it cannot access anything on it. In essence, the feature is a remote-disable tool. It's a must-have for any iPad owner who's worried about losing data.

3. Use security apps

The iPad runs iPhone OS. In other words, all the security tools that are available in Apple's App Store that are designed for the iPhone will also work with Apple's tablet. In some cases, the security tools aren't all that useful, so exercising some vigilance before downloading certain applications is a good idea. But there are other apps that monitor network connections, keep passwords safe and much more. Although it's easy to only browse iPad apps, some iPhone security apps will come in quite handy.

4. Work on trusted WiFi networks

Any iPad owner should be positive that the WiFi network he or she is on is trusted and safe. In far too many cases, WiFi connections on unprotected networks just aren't as safe as they should be. And although it's more difficult for folks to access information on an iPad than on, say, a Windows PC, sending sensitive information over that network can be dangerous, to say the least. Once again, the iPad is little more than a newly designed computer. Owners must always keep that in mind.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...