Last Updated on December 5, 2019 by Husain Parvez
Phones are small, often expensive items we carry with us everywhere and rely on for communication, transport, banking, and numerous other things. This means that not only are the chances of us becoming separated from our precious rectangles relatively high, but also the potential disruption to our lives when they’re lost is considerable. But in this age of cloud computing and advanced mobile technology, we need not despair when we arrive home and find that our mobile isn’t in the handbag where we thought it was. We may be able to recover it – and if not, we can make sure no one else can profit from it.
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It may be too late, but taking all the necessary security measures is always the best practice. First, always make sure you have a passcode turned on, and if available, make use of the fingerprint authentication. Facial recognition may not be 100 percent secure just yet, so this is best avoided.
Passcodes and fingerprint authentication can be entered and turned on in the Settings app. This is a security measure that should be kept to, and although it may seem like an inconvenience to enter the code every time you use your phone, the potential losses make this an absolute must. Fingerprint authentication is quicker and more convenient, but Samsung has publicly recognised weaknesses in the technology.
Other advisable pre-emptive measures include regular backups (or ensuring that auto backups are in place), taking out an insurance policy, and using an app to enable two-factor authentication on your most valuable apps.
Many apps like Dropbox, Google Photos or iCloud Photos automatically save data to cloud, which is always the safest option. For Android phones, Backup and Restore can be found under Settings then Cloud and Accounts. iPhone Backup can be found under Settings, your name, then your device. Backups can be performed manually, though this is usually done automatically.
Two-factor authentication can be applied to important accounts and is a higher level of security. This is a default practice for Google Suite, and can also be used with other apps that contain sensitive data.
Report your phone lost or stolen
A first step to take after your phone is lost or stolen should be to report the incident to your carrier. Someone else in possession of your phone could be using your calls, texts and data, which needs to be stopped immediately. It should also be reported to the police in case someone finds it and hands it in. The chances of a stolen or lost phone being handed in to the police may be minimal, but still possible. A police record will also be required for making an insurance claim.
Lock your phone
To keep any unauthorised user from accessing sensitive information on your phone, we fortunately have the option to lock it down remotely.
For an Android phone, this can be achieved by visiting google.com/android/devicemanager and signing in to the Google account linked to your Android phone. For an iPhone, the address to visit is icloud.com/find. Log in with your Apple ID password and choose Lost Mode from the menu.
After locking the phone, the only access to it will be with your password which other people should not have access to. There is also the option to set a lock screen message from the same sites listed above, where you can explain that the phone has been lost and leave another number to call if the person in possession of it would like to return it.
Locate your phone
Through the same sites given above, there is also the option to locate your phone through GPS. If the phone has been locked it can still be located, but not if the phone has been turned off. When the device is in the possession of a thief, it is not recommended that you confront them after finding their location, as this could be dangerous.
If the phone has been misplaced somewhere in your immediate vicinity, then it is possible to make the device play a sound so it can be found. Another option given is Erase Device or Erase iPhone. This will permanently delete all data from your phone so it cannot be used for fraudulent purposes, but after doing this it will not be possible to remotely locate the device.
Check all online accounts
After your phone has gone missing, it’s best to ensure all your accounts containing sensitive data, or any information that could be used against you, are protected. Many apps will warn against unauthorised attempts to gain access. With Facebook, there is the option to check the current logins from another device, then log out of all sessions. This can also be done with other leading platforms, such as Google and Twitter.
Mobile security apps
In addition to the dangers of losing your phone, mobile security is a growing threat. Hackers are targeting endpoint devices, and cybercrime is increasing and becoming more sophisticated. For those not satisfied with the built-in security levels, extra protection can be offered through choosing a mobile security app that can scan content, analyse apps before downloading them, limit, filter or prevent spam, and phishing, and combat malware. These apps have both free and paid plans, and include Avast, Lookout or Kaspersky.
As expensive devices carrying valuable data, losing a mobile device is something we all would prefer to avoid. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, so we should all try to observe best security practices to minimise the damage on those unfortunate occasions. We can follow these courses of action when things come to the worst, but it is always better to be safe rather than sorry.