Something I am always shocked to hear asked is “how do I add a password to my mobile phone”. If you have ever lost a mobile phone you probably only realized the value of using a passcode once the device has been misplaced. For me there are a couple things I always have setup initially on my phones and that is passcode setup and remote wipe.
BlackBerry Device Password
First navigate to the password screen, Options | Password. Outside of enabling the password option and setting the password you need to change the default timeout. Initially it is set to 30 minutes if not defined by the BES administrator and that is too long to be valuable. You want a timeout value that is long enough that you are not annoyed by the device quickly locking, but short enough to keep your data protected. I set my timeout to 2 minutes when traveling and 5 minutes when I am at home. I do prompt for the password on application install but I do not use a holster so the final option provides me no value.
iPhone Password Settings
The iPhone offers a couple options not available on BlackBerry. To enable the password lock on the iPhone navigate to Settings | General | Passcode Lock. I default my passcode lock to 5 minutes because the only shorter option is 1 minute which is annoyingly fast. I disable the always on voice dialing option as my goal is to prevent phone calls and access to my content should my phone become lost. Finally I set the option wipe the phone if the password is entered invalid 10 times.
Android (2.0+) offers 3 options for Screen Locking: Pattern, PIN, or Password. These are found in Settings | Location & security | Screen Unlock. The screen auto-locks in Android when the screen times out. This can be set to various intervals (15s, 30s, 1m, 2m, 10m or 30m). Of course, you can use an App like Screebl which will never allow the screen to blank while you are holding it in your hand and moving somewhat, but will lock in 15 seconds when you are not.
The PIN and Password options are exactly what you would expect. The Pattern unlock requires a pattern of at least 4 dots, but can be longer. You can also choose to leave a visible trail while you are unlocking or just vibrate when you hit the right pattern. Like Windows, Android also allows you to cache credentials to websites, apps, etc. The first time you enter one, it will ask if you want to cache. In Settings | Location & security | Credential Storage you can also set a credential storage password that has to be entered for this to operate. This can also allow you to install secure certificates that applications might need in order for you to access them remotely.
You may decide that you really don’t store data that important on your mobile device and hence choose to NOT use passcode protection. That is, of course, your choice. However, please don’t just ignore this. Make an informed decision and then live with the consequences. Please don’t be required to say at some future time “I wish I had known!”. Look at your options, make an informed decision, and enjoy your mobile device!