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Turn your phone or tablet into a digital vault

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Dr Craig Valli and Dr Ian Martinus

Regardless of the make of your preferred phone or tablet you should enable the security features it has to protect against loss of your files, data and unauthorized use of your device.

A PIN/Passcode beyond a 1 in 10000 guess

is simple to use and also defeat if you select a bad PIN e.g 0000, 1234, 6789. Most devices enforce a defaullt 4 digit PIN meaning a person trying to guess your PIN has a 1 in 10000 chance of choosing it first go. The apple iphone allows you a 6 digit PIN (passcode) not bad that is 1 million combination. You can enable even stronger passcodes that use “alphanumeric codes” or letters and numbers this generates passcode of length 12. Each character in the code expands from 10 (0-9) to 77 (0-9,a-z,A-Z and some specials) potential values. Which gives you over 4.3 x 1022 possibilities or ~ 43,439,888,520,000,000,000,000. See the guide here to enable this level of protection.

Android (Samsung, Oppo, Huwaei etc) allows a PIN of 16 numbers (0-9), which equates to 10 quadrillion combinations (still a lot).

So again think of a complex combination that you can remember and apply it today to your device.


This is either face or fingerprint or iris referred to as something that you are. You should use these in combination with PIN/Passcode not as a single replacement…why? Simply because they do fail to detect or discriminate properly and allow access called a “false positive”. Our advice do not use them as a sole method of authentication but as part of a combination in a multi factor authentication (MFA)

  1. Facial Recognition Some systems can be defeated by using an A4 colour printout of the face. Better systems check for lividity (signs of life) such as blinking, eye movement and contours on face.

  2. Fingerprint Recognition These likewise can be defeated simply sometimes by just swiping repeatedly until they give a false positive. Other times using sophisticated methods e.g involving 3D printers with higher surety.

  3. Iris Recognition with lividity checks and proper scanning these are some of the best and most secure systems but are rare due to the cost in end user devices. We do note that this technology suffers in a good way from the rapid advance/upgrade/improvement of technology and predict it to become available widely in 3-5 years.

Find my phone functionalities

Most recent phone operating systems have the feature of “find” my phone. This requires that you enable it and require GPS to be turned on. It works best if you have protected your phone i.e the “new” owner can not get into it to disable the feature on the device.

A privacy note you should do this if you are okay with the likes of Apple, Google and phone manufacturers knowing where you and your phone are at anytime. If this is not the case then leave it off and most probably invest in some insurance for replacement of loss of your phone/tablet.

References or links used

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