How Conroy’s daughter wrecked his unsecured iPhone

Senator Stephen Conroy got a personal taste of Internet censorship over the weekend after his three-year old daughter rendered his iPhone inoperable by altering the settings.

Speaking at the launch of National Cyber Security Awareness Week in Melbourne on Sunday communications minister Conroy admitted that his own iPhone had become unusable after his daughter had got her hands on it.

“My three-and-a-half year old daughter got my iPhone last night and has disabled it and I haven’t worked out how to get it to work yet — so any tips anyone has got about how to get your iPhone working after your three-and-a-half year old has been playing with the settings please see me afterwards” Conroy said.

One of the key messages for the National Cyber Security Awareness Week is the importance of using strong passwords on any gadget has Web access. “There will be a focus on the growing number of devices that Australians use to access the Internet” Conroy told the opening-day audience.

Based on the iPhone story it would seem that policy doesn’t extend to phones in the Conroy household. APC asked Senator Conroy why he hadn’t avoided this scenario by following his department’s own advice and setting a passcode lock on his iPhone. “I just recently changed it and I hadn’t a chance to put it back in again” he said. This is not obviously security best practice or particularly reassuring from the man running much of our IT and communications policy.

It also appears that Senator Conroy sometimes lets his daughter mess with an unlocked iPhone rather than deal with her repeated attempts to break through the password system. “The other problem is that my daughter likes to just keep trying and as you know as the default it then freezes it for a while so if I suddenly need to use my phone my daughter’s often caused it to be frozen” he continued. “I’m trying to balance between not having my phone frozen by my daughter at the moment and not having her change its settings. It’s a challenge it’s a real challenge.”

If nothing else that challenge might give him an appreciation for the similar attempts many Australians will make to circumvent the filter once legislation is introduced later this year — something Senator Conroy also reaffirmed is still on the government agenda despite frequent delays.