January 06, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I received an iPad through work. Yesterday, while at lunch with  my wife, it occurred to me that should I lose the iPad, or have it stolen, whomever had it would be able to send and receive emails as me, would have access to my bookmarked web sites - and be able to masquerade as me on those where the browser knows my password.

I’d seen articles about the somewhat visceral reaction people had when loaning their iPhone or iPad to a friend, as the loaner realizes the loanee is now in control of a large slice of their digital persona. So far I have loaned my iPad to no one nor have I passed around my Android phone. But with today’s realization, I am now setting a passcode for both devices.

As more of us have “smart” devices that allow us to interact with the digital universe there will be increased need for a simple, direct way to authenticate our self to our device(s). Perhaps a biometric fingerprint scanner or voice print scan. The current crop of pin number or connect-the-dots-in-a-pattern methods work but they are an extra step that must be taken each time you turn on the device. A method that authenticated you when you picked the device up, and locked the device when you set it down would be ideal.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.