Ways to keep your mobile data away from thieves

As a new face-recognition security app hits an iPhone near you, we assess your top security options

FaceCrypt Plus
App Store, £4.99
FaceCrypt is an ingenious app that allows you to keep all of your passwords behind digital walls 10 feet thick (the algorithm needed to unlock it is military grade). To access your files, just flash your face in front of the camera. You can store all manner of files, from individual credit cards and passport details, to word documents and photographs (which can be imported directly from cloud services such as Dropbox). It isn’t without its drawbacks, though; the interface looks like a bank vault, which isn’t very post-iOS 7, and entering all of your details is a bit of a pain. Once they’re there, though, your information may as well be locked in Alcatraz.
EASE OF USE: Two stars
SECURITY: Five stars

iPhone 5S thumbprint scanner
Available as standard on iPhone 5S
One of the most eagerly awaited features on the new iPhone 5S was the addition of a thumbprint scanner, which allows you to unlock the device by pressing your digit against the “home” button. It was surprising not least because it actually works, unlike every other smartphone print scanner. Apple says it doesn’t keep a record of your print, just an algorithm needed to unlock the code when presented with the relevant data. Inevitable rumours of a hack surfaced in the days after launch, involving latex and glue (and a lot of work), although it’s certainly not an option available to most criminals and, of course, they would still need a very clear copy of your finger print.
EASE OF USE: Five stars
SECURITY: Three stars

Sony Xperia Z face scanner
As standard on device
A very cool feature (one of the many) on the Xperia Z, is its facial recognition feature, which allows you to unlock the phone just by pointing it at your face. The camera automatically detects up to five faces, using similar technology to biometric passport scanners in airports. There are no reports of hackers fooling the software, so unless you have an identical twin, your data should be safe. City A.M.’s (by no means scientific) tests show it only works about 80 per cent of the time, though.
EASE OF USE: Four stars
SECURITY: Five stars

Find My iPhone
Free for Apple users
Security is all well and good, but if someone nicks your jacket, you’re still an iPhone lighter. This is where the Find My iPhone app comes in; when the device is switched on, it will use the phone’s in-built GPS to locate it on a map. This will let you work out if you just left it in your car/in a taxi/behind the sofa, or if it has actually been pilfered. If this is the case, you’re best off taking it to the police rather than rushing in yourself, tempting as that may sound. It’s also just pretty cool to see where all your devices are on a map. The recent iOS update also prevents the feature being switched off without your Apple account password being entered, making it more difficult for thieves to stop you tracking them down. There are similar tracking apps such as Find My Phone for Android users.
EASE OF USE: Five stars
SECURITY: Three stars

1Password
iPhone and Android, £6.99
The premise behind 1Password is simple: hide all of your disparate passwords (you do have disparate passwords, right? You really should.) behind one master password. It’s a beautifully designed app, that looks perfectly at home on an iPhone, and you can separate your various passwords into groups (credit cards, email accounts, video streaming, etc). It even has a random password generator that allows you to beef up the security of your passwords before you save them under the master password. If you have ever been locked out of your emails, this app is for you.
EASE OF USE: Five stars
SECURITY: Five stars

Pic Lock Ultimate
App Store, £1.99
Pic Lock Ultimate allows you to hide your images and videos behind an additional password. You can choose which of your snaps you want to keep from prying eyes, or file them all under different folders (“work”, “personal”, “raunchy” etc). A clever feature switches on the phone’s camera to record a short video of any failed log-in attempt, allowing you to identify any snoopers. It has both a regular PIN password or a swipe gesture for ease of access. Other types of document can also be protected, including to-do lists, contacts and messages. It’s a well designed app with a very useable interface.
EASE OF USE: Four stars
SECURITY: Five stars

iCloud
Free for Apple users
If the worst happens and your phone is stolen/lost and tracking apps don’t help, at least you can be safe in the knowledge your data is safely stored in the cloud. By synching with the service, everything from your passwords to your Notes files are backed up. Your last 1,000 photos can also be backed up using Photostream and, for an additional £25 a year, you can also sign up to iTunes Match, which will allow you to access all of your music library over the cloud (both purchased files and those burned from CD).
EASE OF USE: Five stars
SECURITY: Four stars