Is It OK To Not Put A Passcode On Your Mobile Devices?

My recklessness often gets turned into cautionary tales around here: I destroyed a screwdriver by trying to use it as a hammer, my hard drive died before I could back it up, and this week I left my brand new iPod Touch at a cafe. Usually, they serve as reminders of why we should be doing this or that. But the only lesson to be had this time around is that it's actually OK to not secure your gadgets with a passcode.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Earlier this week, my boyfriend and I hung out at a cafe before heading to the movies. It wasn't until we were halfway into the movie that I realised I didn't have my iPod on me — and only because my boyfriend took out his phone to turn it off after it kept vibrating with notifications. They turned out to be text messages from a friend who was trying to let us know that someone found my iPod, handed it in to the cafe staff, who then posted this message on my Facebook wall.

I went to the cafe and retrieved my iPod the next day without incident. But it got me thinking — would the outcome have been the same if I had put a passcode on my iPod? It's only because it was unlocked that the cafe staff were able to find out it was mine, promptly tell me where I had lost it and where I could pick it up.

If I had locked it, I would have had to activate Apple's Find my Device feature and assume that it was gone for good until I heard otherwise. In other words, not having a passcode resulted in me getting my iPod back more quickly and with less stress than if I had put a security passcode on it.

So even though it's probably a good idea to put a passcode on my iPod (and my Android phone), I still haven't done so and probably never will. My gadgets are full of personal and work-related information that I obviously do not want strangers accessing, but that's not enough of a motivator for me to set up an annoying passcode. I never bother logging out of applications or websites (except anything related to banking) because my devices mostly remain at home. When I do go out with them, I regularly check that they're still in my bag or coat pockets. I don't want to set up a passcode that will give me some security at the expense of total convenience.

Do you think this sort of attitude is reckless? Do you lock all your devices? What would you have done in a situation like this?

Republished from Lifehacker.



    You could just keep your contact details on the lockscreen if you insist on using a password, simple as.

      I did this with my Android phone using a customised lockscreen wallpaper. Is there an app or tweak I can do on the iPod that doesn't involve the wallpaper?

        Terry White from adobe made this video on how to make an I.C.E wall paper for iPhone 5

        Could you tell me how to add details to the lock screen on android, thanks Bob

          Android 4.0+ should allow you to set owner information under your lock screen settings, no customized wallpaper required.
          Note that this may not work if a manufacturer has customized their particular device with a non-stock lock screen.

          I imagine you just create a custom wallpaper that has your details o nit. i.e. A bitmap with text.

            On an Android device, you go to
            Settings, Lock Screen, Owner Information. :D

        Is your iPod Touch running iOS 6? If so you can activate Lost Mode on it which will lock it and place a message on the lock screen.

    Much safer to have a passcode and just embed "If found please contact *alternative tel number / your email *" into your lockscreen image/wallpaper.

    With find my phone you can also display a message with your contact info.

    Since being burned by my CIA handler I no have sensitive information on my mobile that I need to keep secure.

    I can send a message with details to the lock screen, track it via GPS and remote wipe it if needed.

    I'd rather someone who "found" it didn't have access to my personal information, and had to at least know how to get it into recovery mode to wipe it (given iOS and Windows Phone both require pin unlocked to sync with desktop software normally).

      What? I've never had to enter anything to sync my phone.

        Not sync, to run an update or reset to factory you do.

          No. I have updated my phone on several occasions and all I've had to do is sign in to my Hotmail account from my PC (which happens automatically when I start Zune). When I updated from the phone itself, I don't recall having to enter anything. I've never set a password so I'd remember if it had happened because it would have put me into a panic.

            So you don't have a password?

              No, why would I?

                Then why are you arguing? You clearly have no idea what is even being discussed.

                  And here was me thinking I was answering your questions and it turns out I'm the one who has no clue. Go figure?

            I posted my reasons for preferring pin unlock, you posted that what I had posted was wrong as you had never had to use a pin for those features, but then revealed you did not use a pin to protect your lock screen at all.

              No, you said something that was inconsistent with my own experience so I offered mine as counterpoint. I never said you were wrong, that's just how your fragile ego interpreted it.

                You are clearly a massive troll and just like arguing for the sake of it.

    It would drive me nuts having to enter a passcode every time I wanted to check the weather or change the music. There really isn't much anyone could do if they got hold f my phone, except to buy me music or read my email. Hardly the end of the world.

      Me too, that's why on my android phone I have a swipe to unlock it that takes a fraction of second to do.

      Is all about the user really.

      For me, I have emails that contain info covered by NDA's and shnit, so if I lost my phone without a pin code, I could get in a bit of bother.

      Never been bothered by having the press four numbers though *shrug*

      Lockscreen widgets.

      You don't need to unlock your phone for this sort of stuff.

        Really? You can see the weather radar and browse your music collection from your lockscreen? What's the point of even having one, then?

      Weather - look outside
      Change songs (on iOS) double click the home but and you can hit next
      But yes it can be frustrating

        Weather radar can tell me to within a few minutes when to expect rain, even a couple of hours out, so it is something I might need to check every 10 minutes (which is the update frequency) when deciding whether to drive or ride up to the shops. Looking outside will only help me to decide whether or not I need to check the weather on my phone.
        "Next"? Next what? I don't know what I am going to want to listen to next when the album I'm listening to now finishes and I am certainly not going to let some idiotic algorithm decide for me. BTW, in Windows Phone you get player controls on the lockscreen, so no double-click is necessary.

    I don't have a passcode on my phone, and I don't think I ever have.

    I don't think I have anything on my phone that would make me panic if somebody got it.
    - My internet banking app has a separate pin
    - I don't have my work email on the device.
    - There is no CC linked to my Apple ID

    Minimal damage they could do until I managed to get home and lock it. I think I'd get annoyed with having to enter a code every time I used my phone.

    Pattern unlock anyone? Not as annoying as a passcode, but slightly more secure than nothing.

      you just have to make sure you wipe the screen, I saw a mate pick up someone elses phone look at the screen on an angle and get the pattern straight away.

      Personally I don't find those a lot better than a 4 digit pin so far as "annoyance" factors go.

    I'm required by work to have a PIN code on my device when work emails are set up on it.
    Granted, being the IT Support Officer who made up this term, I could probably quite easily get away with this, but I don't want to be that guy who is unfortunate enough to have the worst upon me.

    I have a Jailbroken iPhone 4S, with the android lock screen, so I don't mind swiping a pattern.
    It also has a pin code on it in case the device crashes and goes in to safe mode, thus enforcing a pin instead of a pattern.

    It's also kind of a necessity with the friends and colleagues I work with who enjoy, and find funny, taking my phone and posting all sorts on every possible social media account, and messaging any contact with random messages (Also not desirable as I have my business contacts in there).

    None the less, I don't mind it!

    Last edited 23/11/12 12:43 pm

    I have a handy tweak (jailbroken) on my iPhone that turns off the passcode when I'm connected to known wi-fi networks, and reactivates the pin as soon as it switches to 3G or a public wi-fi network. Means I don't have to worry about a pin anywhere where the phone is safe, given its on wi-fi most of the time.

    Its all fun and games until you're out and a girl borrows your phone to secretly message your ex because you are talking about her too much.

      I'm not sure how much use a pin code would be. "yes you can borrow my phone but I'm not going to unlock it for you so you can just stare at the screen."

    It really you have noods on your phone?
    If yes then you should passcode it

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