Protect Your Little Black Book
The movie Little Black Book features a young woman, Stacy, who
is frustrated when her boyfriend refuses to share information about
his past relationships. When his PDA, a Palm Tungsten C, falls into
her hands, she is faced with a conundrum. Does she give it back,
or does she explore it? If she gave it back, we wouldn t have a
movie, now would we? Stacy then proceeds to identify his ex-girlfriends
and contact them. Let the games begin.
Could this really happen? Of course it could. Most PDA s contain
a plethora of information about a person and their activities, their
digital footprints. People store contact information, appointments,
meetings and midnight rendezvous . They store passwords, login ID
s and PIN numbers. They have photos of people they know and sometimes
in awkward circumstances. It s a lot to have to explain. The courts
are only beginning to grapple with how to handle the content in
a PDA. One person s little black book can be very incriminating
For the rest of us, we have nothing as exotic; however, we are
all in danger of exposure and threat. Identify theft has become
one of the largest white-collar crimes. There is enough information
in the average PDA for someone to take over your life. So, what
s the solution? Give up your PDA? No. You face the same problem
with the typical day planner. It has all of the same information,
it s just not as accessible. In fact, a PDA has certain advantages
over a planner. You can password protect some of the data. You can
even encrypt data. Most importantly, you have a backup. The data
is safely stored on your computer and archived on external media
if you have taken the proper steps.
That duplication of data also means an identity thief has more
ways to get to it. So, what can you do? Well, the first concern
is to make sure that you backup your data. Synchronize your PDA
at least daily. I synchronize my Treo 600 2-3 times each day, usually
when I arrive at my office or leave it. Backing up your data means
that you should be creating a copy on tape, CD, zip disk, flash
ROM or other external media and storing it offsite. If you are not,
you are asking for trouble and your business is at risk. If your
PDA is ever stolen, you will need to restore that data on a new
Next, you need to minimize the amount of data someone can actually
access. Let s face it, if a hacker really wants to get your data,
they will succeed. However, not every criminal is a super hacker.
Sometimes you just want to keep your information from prying eyes.
Just because you labeled something as private in your PDA doesn
t mean someone else can t read it. It depends on what application
you synchronize with. If you sync with Outlook, records that are
private on your PDA may be public in Outlook.
The best way to protect passwords and PIN numbers is to store them
in a password application that encrypts the data. The best applications
have both a PDA application and a desktop application that allows
access to the information from either system. The trouble is converting
that data from whatever format it s in currently. I ve struggled
with this one myself. There is no easy method I ve found so far.
Just set aside time to copy and paste the data into the password
application. It might take a few hours to get that information into
a secure application.
If you re worried about someone viewing your schedule, the best
approach is to archive your past history periodically. Outlook has
settings that allow you to specify to how often calendar events
will be archived. This will wipe the history from your PDA also.
Archives are usually stored in an external file that can be accessed
If you have incriminating photos, delete them. If you want a copy,
save it on external media like tape, CD and flash ROM. For contacts,
you can archive them or simply move the record to an external file.
Outlook allows you to create a .pst file that you can use to save
email, calendar, address, tasks, or other information. Once you
move a record, it will be removed from your PDA.
And, don t forget to delete the cookies and memory cache on your
PDA s web browser. Remember that website you checked out last week?
Is that something you want everyone else to know about? I don t
Don t forget physical security; keep an eye on your PDA. It s possible
to take steps to protect your data and remove your digital footprints.
Protect your little black book and it will protect you.
Rick Cooper, The PDA Pro, is the PDA Coach for productivity anytime,
anywhere. He is a national speaker on business productivity and
sales. Rick is President of StratAchieve, a company specializing
in coaching services to improve productivity and increase revenues.
For more information, visit his website at www.thepdapro.com
or call (800) 677-6708.