Adjusting the Security on Your iPAQ

One of the great things about an iPAQ is that it's small enough to fit into a pocket. Unfortunately, this also makes an iPAQ an attractive target for thieves or even people who simply can't resist playing around with that neat-looking gadget. Be careful about leaving your iPAQ where someone can grab it. Be sure to take steps to prevent someone from accessing your data. That way, if nothing else, you have the satisfaction of knowing that no thief can make use of your personal information or files.

Enabling a password

Setting up security on your iPAQ means creating a password that must be entered whenever the unit is turned on. Without the correct password, no one can access your files or use your iPAQ.

Don't depend too heavily on the Simple 4-Digit Password option — especially if you tend to keep very sensitive files on your iPAQ. These passwords consist of just four numeric digits, and someone who really wants in could discover your password just by being persistent. Sure, it may take a person several hours, but if your information is valuable enough, a thief or a snoop may decide that it's worth the effort.

To set a password, choose Start --> Settings. On the Personal tab, click the Password icon. Select the Prompt If Device Unused For check box. Next, choose the type of password you want to use, and then use the on-screen keypad (which appears if you selected the Simple 4 Digit Password option) or the on-screen keyboard (which appears if you selected the Strong Alphanumeric Password option) to enter a password code. Be sure to also tap the Hint tab and set up a clue to remind you in case you forget your password!

If you don't want to have to enter the password every time you turn on your iPAQ, select the Prompt If Device Unused For option. Then enter the length of time that you want to wait before a password is required.

What to do when you forget your password

If you set a password and then forget what it is (or if someone else sets a password on your iPAQ just to be mean), you'd better hope that you can guess the correct password. If this doesn't work, you're in big trouble!

Yes, an easy way to bypass (and remove) the password does exist, but you pay a heavy price if you use it. To forcibly remove the password so you can again use your iPAQ, you must restore your iPAQ to the factory default settings. In doing so you remove all of your data, any files you've created, and any special settings you've applied. In other words, your iPAQ is wiped clean of anything you've done.

If you've tried everything else and are so desperate that you feel you must start fresh, here is the procedure you use to remove the password:

1. Remove your iPAQ from the cradle, making sure that it's running on the internal battery power.

2. Use the stylus to press down the recessed reset button on the back or side of the iPAQ.

3. While the reset button is held down, press the On/Off button.

4. Release the reset button.

When you press the On/Off button again, your iPAQ turns on and all your files are gone. To avoid repeating this major disaster in the future, you should back up your iPAQ files on your desktop PC.

Wi-Fi security considerations

A wireless network makes it extremely easy for you to move around and still access your network without the bother of dragging a bunch of cables, but this same ease and convenience also makes it quite simple for neighbors or strangers to connect to your network, too. And this could give them easy and free access to your sensitive files, your user names and passwords, your financial data, or even to your bank and credit card accounts.

If you want to keep the snoops out but still want the convenience of a wireless network, you're going to have to do a small amount of work. It takes only five minutes or so, but you can sleep better tonight knowing that you've made some effort to protect yourself. Your first step is to dig out the user manual for your access point — you know, it's that little book that you ignored that came with the access point. Find the section on configuring the access point (each brand is a little different). Then, be sure to change the password (and user name if you can). Next, change the SSID (the network name of the access point). Don't use a name that easily identifies whose network this is. Turn on the highest level of security that's offered and enter a key value that's so difficult that you have to write it down to remember it. You also have to modify the settings on your iPAQ and any other devices to match. These steps won't keep out crooks or governmental goons, but they at least prevent the casual passersby from getting in.

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