Eight Tips to Reduce Smartphone Theft

December 10, 2014 Timothy Mobile Apps

Its the Holidays and we know what that means. Thieves. Not just any thieves, but thieves looking for the latest smartphones and tablets. With crowded stores and busy restaurants its easy to accidentally forget a device. However your overlooked device isn’t likely overlooked by opportunistic thieves.

The Popular Science article that inspired this post mentions that buy merely implementing smartphone security, thefts decreased by a quarter in major cities. The problem is that many, if not most, folks haven’t turned on the slightest security in their expensive devices.

Let’s go over the fundamentals, just in case you may be among the less secure.

Before your phone goes missing

1. Be security savvy. Just as you likely wouldn’t flash a roll of cash in public, be careful about flashing your expensive phone in public as well. Don’t self-identify yourself as a target.

2. Use a passcode. Just a third of people use even a simple four digit passcode to protect their private information on smartphones. At a minimum, start using a passcode, but don’t select the obvious 1111 or 1234. Ideally use longer than four digit passcode or password.

3. Turn on device tracking. Apple has upgraded their iOS software to prevent device tracking from easily being turned off. Also consider adding a more advanced security app that takes and sends photos of the holder our surroundings.

4. Keep your data backed up. You can replace the phone and the SIM card, not so much your photos and data. Regularly sync your phone and computer or use a backup app to create regular backups of your phone’s data. Also backup your phones description and serial number by taking a photo with another device or writing the information down. You’ll need these details for any police report.

5. Get insured. In the event your smartphone is stolen, insurance can reduce the financial bite and pain.

After missing your phone

6. Report your phone missing. If your phone is stolen contact your service provider immediately to avoid charges. If you think your phone is just “mislaid”, then call and put a hold on your account. You can remove or upgrade the hold later. The key is to prevent unauthorized usage. Also, if the phone has been stolen contact the police and provide a serial number. Police often provide lists of stolen goods to area pawn shops and consignment stores.

7. Attempt to locate. Still can’t find it in your car or home? Now is the time to use the tracking app your loaded in step 3 above. If your app provides for remote locking, lock out the bad guys now. Also, if you do manage to get a map location, do not attempt to retrieve your phone yourself. Thieves can be a mean bunch. Let the police retrieve your phone.

8. Wipe your data. If your phone is untraceable and it looks like you’ll never see it again (we’re sorry to hear that), consider wiping the data remotely. Most recent phones have the ability for remote wipe. Keep in mind that remote wiping also wipes any locator apps and any chance of recovery. Use wiping as a last resort.

Inspiration: Smartphone Theft Is An Epidemic, So Secure Yours Now, Popular Science

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About Timothy Lee

Tim, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center's webmaster and technical training specialist, has been with ASBTDC since 1995. He retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of master sergeant. He's a bit gung-ho, turns cat food cans into cook stoves, and keeps packing ASBTDC equipment for rapid worldwide deployment, but he's your "go to" guy for technical solutions and full-scale disasters.

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