1. Computing

Install or Enable Remote Wipe on Your Smartphone Now

This security feature is one of the first things to set up on your phone

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Smartphones -- and the personal and business information you store on them -- are easily lost or stolen. Thankfully, remote wipe enables you to remotely erase all of the data stored on your phone. It's an important security feature widely available on smartphones, either by default or as an app you can (and should) install.

Here’s some background on using remote wipe by device/platform:

iPhone: As of the iPhone 3.0 software update, it's a fairly simple process for users with a MobileMe account (requiring a yearly paid subscription) to locate their iPhone (or iPod touch) and securely wipe the phone's data if they need to.

BlackBerry: BlackBerry smartphones, being very enterprise-friendly devices, have a specific policy that IT administrators can turn on to enable remotely wiping a BlackBerry to factory defaults. For individual users, third-party apps would be needed to enable remote wipe. You can, however, right now take steps to secure your BlackBerry via password protection and content protection.

Palm: Like the BlackBerry, the Palm Pre allows IT administrators to initiate a remote wipe. Individual users can also perform a "remote erase" on their Palm Pre from their Palm Profile page on Palm.com.

Windows Mobile: Microsoft's My Phone service provides users with devices running Windows Mobile 6.0 or higher to locate lost phones and/or remotely erase their data.

Android: The Android platform does not come with remote wipe capabilities as a default feature, but there are 3rd party apps, like the highly regarded--and free--Mobile Defense app, that enable remote wipe. The Motorola Cliq, which runs a customized version of Android, also has a built-in ability to be remotely wiped by users, and other non-stock Android devices may have this feature built-in.

Google Apps-managed devices (iPhone, Nokia E-series, and Windows Mobile): Google Apps Premier Edition (a paid yearly subscription), for enterprise and schools, enables IT administrators to remotely wipe data from mobile devices.

As you can see, smartphones platforms have remote wipe capabilities, but many are not free or require the smartphone to be managed by an IT department. If you don't have remote wipe built into your device already, however, take a look at free security/remote wipe apps (like Mobile Defense) that are available for your specific device.

One caveat to note is that remote wipe requires your phone to have a charge and be on for you to be able to remotely erase the data. There are other possible issues as well, such as if the phone gets rebooted during the remote wipe process (which could be lengthy). Although the security may not be foolproof, however, enabling remote wipe remains an important first step in securing your smartphone … one that needs to be set up before it is lost or stolen.

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