There’s a small risk with any Wi-Fi capable device that someone could be snooping in on data traveling via an open network. You should apply the same common sense when using public Wi-Fi networks as if you were using a laptop: unless you absolutely have to, avoid using Internet banking or any other service that requires you to enter sensitive personal data.
Are there any other risks?
Perhaps the biggest risk — as with any device as portable as a phone or laptop — is that someone could steal it and access your private data. If you’re worried about that possibility, the easiest line of defense is to set an unlock pattern and SIM card lock.
So how do I lock my phone?
Out of the box, there are a couple of options. A pattern lock is the most straightforward, but you can also use a SIM lock. Both of these options can be found under Menu > Settings > Security. To set up a pattern lock, check the box that says Require pattern and then select Change unlock pattern. You’ll see a square of nine dots. Draw a continuous line between the dots in a pattern that’s complex enough to not be immediately obvious – not, then, the big “Z” that’s used for demonstration in the phone’s manual – but simple enough to remember. You’ll then be prompted to confirm your pattern by drawing it one more time. Now, when your phone goes to sleep or is switched off, the next time you go to use it again you’ll be presented with an unlock screen that requires you to draw that same pattern before you can access the home screen.
Setting a SIM card lock can be done from the same security settings screen. Select Set up SIM card lock and then check Lock SIM card. You’ll be prompted at this stage for your existing PIN. If you don’t know it, check the documentation that came with your phone to see if it’s listed anywhere, or call your network provider and they’ll provide you with it after verifying your identity. Once your SIM PIN is set up, anyone trying to use the phone will be required to enter this four-to-eight digit number. After three wrong attempts the SIM will be locked and you’ll need to contact your provider again for a Pin Unlock Code (PUK), or buy a new SIM card and start again.
It’s amazing how quickly your finger will remember a fairly complicated pattern like this, but if you decide to go for something really elaborate it might be an idea to draw yourself a little diagram for reference.
- Next-gen WiFi hotspots to feature no-password login with phone SIM card – Ars Technica (arstechnica.com)
- Wi-Fi Passpoint standard could end hotspot sign-on hassles (macworld.com)
- Why connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot is about to get easier (gigaom.com)
- Wi-Fi Passpoint standard could end hotspot sign-on hassles (redwolf.newsvine.com)