Theft Proofing Your Phone

Protect Your Phone From Theft

Today, we use our phone in almost everything. From checking our social media, emails to even manage our finance through online/mobile banking.  Realistically, there is always going to be some risk of your phone being stolen or lost. However, there are some basic steps everyone can take to limit the impact of a stolen/lost phone.

What do thieves do with your phone after it is stolen?

They go searching for data.

Protect your phone from theft

Some phone-criminals are mainly focused on accessing your data, as it’s worth more to them than the handset itself. Armed with your personal information, identity fraud becomes a piece of cake. They can access your sensitive files, even access your bank account online using your phone.

They use your files to blackmail you.

Protect your phone from theft

This is thankfully rare, but it does happen. Some thieves will use the information they find on phones (such as photos, texts or emails), then use it to hold the original owner to ransom. The best thing to do is to remotely wipe your phone as soon as you find out it’s stolen – this can be achieved with apps such as Find My Device (free – Android and iOS).

They hack your accounts.

Protect your phone from theft

In some circumstances, thieves have even been known to take over your online accounts – such as your social media accounts, Apple ID account or your iCloud. They then hold the accounts to ransom, until you’re willing to pay up in exchange for giving back the control to you.

They sell your phone.

Protect your phone from theft

Your smartphone is likely to be valuable unless it’s particularly outdated or broken. A skilled thief knows how to reprogram the phone and swap its SIM card. This means they can then take it to a reseller. The reseller will happily pay hundreds of pounds for the latest model.

How to Theft-Proof Your Phone

Before Losing Your Phone:

#1: Be sure to use a strong screen lock

This is your first and strongest line of defence. Don’t use an easy 4-digit PIN. As much as possible, use a strong password that contains a combination of numbers, symbols, capital and lower-case letters. Be sure that it is not in the dictionary. It’s not a recognizable word, phrases, names—especially those that could be associated with you. Example Ilovegravy2020 is a weak password, but 1L0v3gr@vy2020 could be much harder to crack. While typing a nontrivial password may feel strenuous at first, it should get much easier with practice.

Most of the phones today are using fingerprint readers. Fingerprint sensor gives you a convenient unlocking option.

But there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • A fingerprint can be less secure than a strong PIN, pattern, or password.
  • A copy of your fingerprint could be used to unlock your phone. You leave fingerprints on many things you touch, including your phone.
  • You’ll be asked to add a backup PIN, pattern, or password. Remember your backup. You’ll need to use it sometimes, like after restarting your phone, or if your fingerprint isn’t recognized.

Password protection comes with another safeguard: After several unsuccessful tries to enter a passcode, typically 10, some phones will automatically erase all of your personal data. If your phone provides this option, activate it.

#2: Track Your Device

Both Apple and Android have in-built features that allow you to track your device if it gets lost. In Apple, it is called ‘Find my phone’ and on Android, ‘Android device manager’.

When you log in through your Apple or Google account while setting up the phone, this feature gets enabled by default. If it’s not, turning it on is a must.

After your phone is stolen, go online and type ‘Find my phone’ or ‘Android device manager”.

Use your account credentials to log in. The only downside of this is: your phone should be on and is connected to the Internet to broadcast its location. If it was stolen and the theft knows about this, they won’t probably turn on the internet until they were able to hack or wipe it entirely to turn it off.

If it has been switched off or can’t connect to the Internet, you will only be able to see the last location.

Apple took smart phone protection a step further on its iPhone models that run iOS 7, with a powerful feature that prevents anyone from using the phone—even after it’s wiped clean—unless they type in your iTunes ID and Password. The feature, called Activation Lock, is built into iOS 7 and automatically enabled when you set up the Find My iPhone feature.

As powerful as Activation Lock is, there’s evidence that it may be less than perfect. A security firm, SRLabs, recently demonstrated how a determined thief with the proper equipment can defeat Activation Lock in some cases.

Some antivirus software for mobile phones also offer tracking features.

#3 Backup Your Files: Photos, Videos, Contacts

Phones nowadays typically offers free cloud backups for phone. These options often appear when you set up the phone for the first time, though you can always activate them later.

OneDrive, Dropbox, or other neutral-based cloud backups will make it easier to retrieve your precious memories should your next phone be from a different carrier/model/brand.

#4: Attach a note

You may not love the idea of marring your phone’s great looks, but doing so may increase your chances of getting it back if it’s found by an honest person. Tape a tiny note on the back of your phone with your e-mail address or a work number (don’t give your home number to be safe).

You can put this at the back, inside your phone case if you have one.

On Android phones, you can also type such a message in the Owner Info section of the Security submenu in Settings. But if you erase the contents of your phone, that message will disappear.

#5 Install Data Encryption Apps

By installing data encryption apps to your phone, you can protect your social chats, passwords, emails that later can be used to you by the thief to blackmail you.

Here are the best free encryption software you can use.

After Losing Your Phone

1 – Wipe your phone’s memory

2- Change your important passwords

3 – Call or text everyone and inform them about your missing phone

4 – Report the loss to the police

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