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One Step Ahead
February 27, 2007, Volume 53, No. 24

One Step Ahead

Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

Securing Data on your Handheld Computer

Handheld computers comprise a broad class of devices including BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Palm Smartphone, as well as traditional PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants). As these devices can contain lots of personally sensitive information, it is a good idea to make sure that they are protected from prying eyes as much as possible. In the event one of these devices is lost or stolen, the following short list of recommendations will help ensure that your data is protected, and is accessible by you:

• If your device has a power-on password feature, you should use it. This basic security is more intrusive on some devices than others.  Our recommendation is to try the built-in password screen on your device and see if it is usable for your specific needs.  Make sure that you use a strong password that is hard to guess.  For password creation tips, please see: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/footprints/index.html#strongpswd.

• PDAs are particularly vulnerable to damage or loss and should be backed up regularly. The definition of an appropriate backup depends heavily on the workflow of the user; there is no global recommendation to be made here. For some users the vendor-supplied desktop sync package will be sufficient. Other users may require whole-device backup packages such as SPBBackup or BackupBuddy.

• When performing backups to a flash memory card in your device, remember that these backups only protect you against damage to the device; if the device is lost or stolen, the memory card, along with the backups, goes with it.

For additional information on handheld computers in general, please visit www.upenn.edu/computing/provider/pda.


For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/.

Almanac - February 27, 2007, Volume 53, No. 24