Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:36 pm Post subject: Security question
I want to protect my data in case my PocketPC is lost or stolen. How can I be sure that the hard drive cannot be read by a stranger?
I have a Dell Axim X30 with Windows Mobile 2003 2nd edition.
I have 2 questions really:
1. When I want to turn off my Pocket PC, how can I "lock" it? In other words, I want to immediately go into locked mode where any user needs to enter the password to use the machine, instead of having the machine wait for the set amount of time before it locks itself. When I turn it off and turn it back on 1 minute later, I don't have to log in. I want to be able to put the machine into locked mode before I shut it off.
2. If my PocketPC is lost or stolen, and the person that finds it can't break in to it because they don't know the password, I'm still concerned that a pro can take out the hard drive and access the information on it. What can I do to keep that from happening?
To start with, unless you have added a hard drive (microdrive) via a CF slot, your Pocket PC does not have a 'hard drive' in it. Files and databases are stored in RAM and in any flash memory left over from the operating system, called a Flash ROM Disk in some models, or by various other names depending on manufacturer preference. So it would take someone with rather advanced skills to connect to the internal memory modules and collect any data from them. Possible perhaps, but not likely.
If you do not find the '0 minutes' setting to be secure enough, well, I suppose you expect some very, very quick data theives to attack your device... sometime between the instant you press the power button to suspend it and the micro-second later when the device actually suspends. Does your password dialogue under Settings | Password not offer the 0 minutes option? My Toshiba e830 has this, under WM2003SE. It is also available under WM6.0 on my Atom XDA.
If the native password protection is not sufficient for your needs, I'd suggest getting an advanced password program such as VisKeyCE, and even consider buying a data encryption software of some sort. I believe data in main memory and on storage cards can be encrypted by several products being offered for Pocket PC use, but have no direct experience with this sort of thing. AirScanner offers one I think, as does SPB Software.
Of course the best security protocol is to avoid losing the device. Many users, including business users with valuable information stored on their devices, are surprisingly casual about leaving these things lying about on desks or in synch cradles. This seems to be begging for data theft, considering all the traffic in and out of many sorts of offices.
I have read some time ago of a data-wipe option in some software, though I forget the name. This offered the option of clearing RAM and any installed memory cards after a user-defined number of password attempts, involving a file shredding algorythm I believe. A bit of searching with the right terms should turn up this and anything else of relevance to your needs.
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