Friday, February 1, 2008

Keep your Palm safe with Warden


By Heather Wardell

Like many people, I keep my entire life on my Palm. The information isn't particularly sensitive, unless the date of my last haircut counts as sensitive, but it is personal and I wouldn't want just anyone getting into it.

I did occasionally lock my older Palms using the built in security application, but I often forgot to do it, or found the "lock after so many minutes" annoying. When I switched to the Treo 680, I wondered if the smartphone functionality would somehow allow me to leave the unit unlocked, but still be able to lock it if it went missing. Warden, by CorSoft, promises to make this happen.

Installation and configuration

The install file walks you through the installation process, clearly explaining what it will do and why. The license code I was provided didn't work on my first attempt, but technical support replaced it within hours and the new one worked properly.

The software does require that you either allow it to register wirelessly over the Internet or type the code it provides into the Web site; I do not use wireless Internet with my Treo, so I used the Web site and everything worked fine.

The philosophy of Warden divides situations into two groups: local and remote. Local implies that you have the device in your possession. When under a local lock, the device still shows alerts from other applications, such as alarms and phone calls, and you can respond to those without unlocking.

The software can also be set up to lock the Treo automatically. As Figure A shows, several situations can trigger the automatic local lock, and each can be configured independently.


Warden's options are configurable and easy to use. (click for larger image)

If you've chosen to lock the Treo remotely, the software assumes, rightly in my opinion, that you're not in control of the device, and therefore by default doesn't show anything from other applications. You can configure the software to allow these alerts to appear, but it makes sense to me to keep them hidden; if someone else has my Treo, I don't want them answering my phone calls.

Locking: local and remote

The screen Warden presents when locked is different depending on whether the lock was initiated locally or remotely.

The left side of Figure B below shows the local lock; the right side shows the remote lock.


Warden's local and remote lock, giving different information to the Treo's finder. (click for larger image)

The screen color, and details presented on the screen, are all configurable. Clicking "call owner" or "call to return this device" causes the Treo to dial the first number in your business card record in your contacts.