Defeat the thieves after your iPad

The fight against gadget theft is in your hands, writes Anthony Caruana.

ONE of the best things about the iPad is that it is so portable. But that also means it can be stolen easily. So how does one secure an iPad against theft or retrieve it if it is lost either accidentally or to a thief?

Before we dive into some specific solutions, it's worth talking about security more generally. There are two types of security to consider - physical and logical.

Physical security is all about making sure the actual hardware doesn't fall into the wrong hands. It's important to remember that once someone has physical access to your hardware, access to the data on the device can't be guaranteed. The best way to secure your device is to not leave it unattended.

The iPad does not have one of those ubiquitous Kensington Security Slots and there's no simple way to add one. However, given the iPad is meant to be a personal, portable device, tying it down is probably going to be inconvenient.

Logical security deals with ensuring the data on the device can't be accessed or compromised via a network. On desktop and laptop systems, software firewalls such as the one that's available on your Mac through System Preferences/Security, are an example of logical security.

With your iPad, the place to start is to enable the iOS Passcode Lock under Settings. This will force you to enter a four-digit code when you start your device. If you don't want to be prompted to enter your code every time, you can use the auto-lock setting to only require the code if your device is off for a certain period of time. You can also choose to have all the data and applications wiped from the iPad if the code is entered incorrectly 10 times.

If you think a four-digit PIN is too simple, you can turn the simple passcode off and use a stronger alphanumeric passcode.

Apple has made the Find My iPad and Find My iPhone services available for free to all iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch owners. This uses your iPad's GPS to send the device's location to Apple so the device can be tracked.

This service requires that you enable the Find My iDevice option in Settings/ Mail, Contacts, Calendars. Once that's done, you need to download the free Find my iPhone app from the App Store. The only problem with this is that you need access to a second iOS device to find a lost device.

For MobileMe subscribers, access to tracking lost devices is available through any web browser. MobileMe costs $99 a year.

Another option is to look at apps such as GadgetTrak and Security System.

GadgetTrak is not only able to track your device should it be lost or stolen but also uses the iPad and iPhone camera to shoot photos of the thief and their surroundings. These are silently emailed to an address you specify in the settings so that you can provide information to police to assist with apprehension.

By using a combination of GPS and mobile tower positions, GadgetTrak is able to pinpoint the position of the iPad. This is used to display the location on a map. If the crook tries to delete the GadgetTrak app from the device they'll be thwarted, as GadgetTrak can be used to lock the device down so that the app can't be removed.

GadgetTrak costs $4.99 from the App Store.

Security System takes a different approach. By analysing movement and ambient sounds, the software makes a determination as to whether the device is at risk of being stolen. If it is, Security System sounds a loud alarm that requires a PIN code to be entered. Instead of an alarm, you can also set a song to play when a potential theft is in progress and the app can send an email that isn't made visible to the thief.

Security System costs $1.99 from the App Store.

Courtesy: Digital Life