30 Days With the iPad: Day 24
One of the realities of using a PC is that it needs to be protected from malware, and the data it contains must be secured to prevent unauthorized access. The security concerns for tablets may be different, but the iPad still stores plenty of sensitive data, and there has to be a way for me to protect that data if the iPad is going to replace my PC.
Whether you have a 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB iPad, there is plenty of room there for sensitive data. Without some security measures in place, if my iPad were lost or stolen it could grant access to my email, social networks, contacts, calendar events, personal photos and videos, and any files stored on the iPad itself.
I don't really care if a thief gets access to my collection of David Cook, Lady Gaga, Staind, and Colbie Callait MP3s, or even my digital copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. No worries. However, I'd rather not expose my emails, contacts, or access to the data I have stored on Box.net.
As with any platform, security on the iPad is a balancing act. The more convenient it is to use, the less secure it is. The more secure it is, the less convenient.
For example, it would be more secure if apps like MyPad+, Box.net, or Twitter for iPad didn't store my credentials, but then it would be a pain to have type them every time I want to access those apps. I don't want to enter my username and password every time I want to check my email, but it would make my email more secure.
Some apps--the apps where money can actually be spent--do offer additional protection. My Starbucks app, Amazon.com, and even the Apple App Store app all require that I enter a PIN or password before a transaction.
I choose to strike a balance that locks the iPad when not in use, but stores credentials to make it more convenient to use when it is unlocked. In the iPad Settings, under General, there is a section that deals with iPad security.
The first setting determines if or when to auto-lock the iPad. I can set the iPad to automatically lock after two, five, ten, or fifteen minutes of inactivity--or never. I have this set for five minutes. I understand, though, that by setting it to five minutes I am also leaving a thief a five minute window of opportunity. As long as someone initiates some activity on the iPad within those five minutes, the auto-lock will not kick in and the thief could have access to the contents of my iPad.
The second setting is for the Passcode Lock. By default, the iPad does not require any sort of PIN or password. I can turn on a passcode with this setting. The standard passcode for the iPad is a four-digit PIN. There is an option to disable the simple passcode, though, which then lets me assign an alphanumeric password of variable length.