The Loss of a Smartphone: How to Protect Your Data (and Possibly Even Find it Again!)

by Geek Squad Agent on ‎03-19-2012 02:30 PM - last edited on ‎07-14-2016 12:14 PM by Geek Squad Agent (3,654 Views)

Despite these precautions, nothing will prevent us from accidentally leaving our phones somewhere. And then there’s theft. They haven’t invented an accessory guaranteed to prevent that yet.


Losing a prized possession can be rough, especially when it’s an expensive one like a smartphone. Just the thought of misplacing my phone makes my heart sink and my wallet cry out in pain. The fear really comes in when I think of all the private data that ends up stored on my phone. Losing that could be embarrassing, inconvenient and potentially costly.


Fear not! Its 2012 and our mobile devices are smarter than ever. Helping clients through the process of replacing mobile devices prompted us to put together the following step-by-step guide for protecting your phone or tablet.


Step 1: Lock Down Your Phone

If you want to make it more difficult for someone to access your data, lock your phone down with a password. Android phones and Apple iPhones both have a feature that requires pin codes and passwords to unlock them. Android phones can also be locked with a pattern that you must draw (or even facial recognition).  N

ote: unlocking your phone with your face is a cool feature but is not as secure as using a pin code or password. Pattern unlock is also susceptible to attacks because your fingers will leave marks as they slide across your screen.


Step 2: Encrypt it!

New tablets and phones that run the “Honeycomb” and “Ice Cream Sandwich” versions of Android allow all the data on the device to be encrypted. The encryption options are available in the security settings menu and will require you to set up a pin number that will give you access to your device when you turn it on. Encrypting your device isn’t a necessity, but it does increase how secure your phone is.


Step 3: Disable potentially risky settings

There is a function in the Options and Security section of the “Settings” menu in your Android phone called “USB debugging.”  Developers use this setting to access and update data on your device. This setting can also allow others to install apps on your phone. Android users should make sure this setting is “off” during normal operation. Leaving this option “on” would give thieves access to data on your device should they get their hands on your smartphone.


Installing apps from outside of the Android Market isn’t necessarily bad, but once you go outside the recognized market, you need to be very careful about the sources of the apps. Don’t install an app from the web unless you’re sure that it’s safe.


Step 4: Here’s where it gets fun…

So far, so good. But how would you like to use Google Maps to find where you lost phone is?  How about using remote commands to have your phone to take a picture of the thief? Many phone and tablet security apps will allow you to do just that.


Android Lost is a free app that you can install on your Android phone that allows you to control the phone remotely. (Heck, the app can even be installed remotely.) With the app on your phone, you can remotely lock or wipe your phone, view its location on a map, play messages, read texts and even take photos using the phone’s camera. Once installed, you can prevent the app from showing up in the app list, and can control it right from the app’s website using any computer.  (Pretty sneaky and cool, eh?)


Other good Android security apps include Lookout Security and Where’s My Droid. If you own an iPhone with the latest version of iOS, you can use “Find my iPhone” functionality to locate your phone using any computer. This is part of Apple’s new iCloud services suite.


Locked&Found is our contribution to the mobile device security market.. Our program is available for all Android, iPhone and Blackberry phones and Android and iPad tablets. Locked&Found service is available as a standalone service and is included as part of our Black Tie protection plans for  tablets and phones.


We hope these tips help prevent future disasters.. If you don’t choose to put a password on your phone, at least install a security app. There are plenty of free ones, and it only takes a few minutes to setup. If these help you in the future, let us know! We’d love to hear about your success stories on Facebook.

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