Lock your Smartphone or Risk Losing Everything

stolen-iphoneWhen my wife’s iPhone was stolen in Paris I was very happy that we had the ability to remotely lock and wipe it. But the fact that it wasn’t locked with PIN had me frantically changing email and bank account passwords at 5 in the morning.

Why the worry?

Most smartphones receive your email without the need to enter a password.  They also receive bank, PayPal and credit card statements and are used by these institutions as a place to confirm a password reset.  This information can be used to access your bank account, reset your password and, once that has happened you can kiss your money good bye.

And phone theft is on a steep climb.  In New York City, cellphone thefts make up more than half of all street crime, with iPhones being the most popular item.  In fact Infoworld has produced an interesting interactive map showing where cell phones are stolen in San Francisco which you can see here.

My early morning panic could have been significantly reduced with a simple PIN added to the phone.

pinI know having to enter a PIN is a pain but you don’t have to set it up to ask for the PIN every time – every 15 minutes is plenty.  That’s because the first thing most thieves do is to power down your phone so that you can’t track them.  When a phone is powered up again the PIN is requested even if it was last entered just a few minutes ago.

Other things you can do to keep your data safe include if your phone gets stolen include:

  • Don’t store a list of passwords, PINs or personally identifying information on your phone.  If you must (and let’s face it, it’s too tempting not to) then use an app that asks for a master password.
  • Set up the phone so that you can find, lock and wipe your phone remotely.  For the iPhone use the Find my iPhone service available through iCloud.  I found a similar one on the Google Play store called Where’s my Droid but haven’t used it myself.
  • Back up all of your data to a PC or the cloud.  I was able to have my wife’s new phone up and running in minutes with everything just as it was before she left because we had this.

If you’ve taken the right steps to protect yourself, losing your phone will be just an annoyance. But if you’ve failed to safeguard your phone with a password, backing up all your data and installing a program that can wipe the phones data remotely, you are setting yourself up for a seriously traumatic event.

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3 Comments

Filed under Free Software, Online Security, Technology, Web Design

3 responses to “Lock your Smartphone or Risk Losing Everything

  1. Most people today have their whole lives on their smartphones. Great advice you have here.

    • It’s so true! I wanted to keep the post short enough for people to read but there is so much information on phones today it’s scary.
      Nice looking blog you have there. I’m going to have to check that out and perhaps reblog a few things 😉

      • Thanks!

        I actually had an experience a couple years ago when I lost my cell phone at an amusement park. I was so paranoid of who could’ve picked it up. Thankfully, one of the park workers took it to the office and I was able to retrieve it there. No harm, no foul.

        If you don’t set a pin or other security features now, at least do it when you are on vacation or on the road away from home. Better safe than sorry!

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