The winter holidays are upon us, and with them comes the shopping, traveling and general merry-making. Law enforcement is also warning about the increasing rate of smartphone thefts as criminals take advantage of the increased distraction, armfuls of packages and winter clothing to abscond with devices they know most people carry and use these days. Though you can do a lot to lower your profile as a potential victim, its an virtual guarantee that a certain percentage of you will have your phone stolen or lost, and aside from the loss of the device itself, your data could also be exploited to your further detriment if your device isn’t properly safeguarded against possible theft. CNET has a comprehensive article detailing how you can secure your data and increase your chances of recovering your iOS, Android or Windows smartphone in case it is stolen, but if you are in a hurry (and who isn’t, these days?), I’ll provide a summary of the basics below.
What this means for you:
For all phones:
- Use a pin, password, or fingerprint to lock your phone.
- Encrypt your phone data. iPhones and Windows Phones do this by default, but it must be enabled manually on Android devices.
- Back up your critical data, whether it’s contacts, emails or photos.
For iPhone Users:
- Disable access to any features made available through the lockscreen, such as dialing and texting via Siri.
- Set up an iCloud account and enable “Find my iPhone” so that your device can be tracked in case of loss or theft.
For Android Users:
- Disable access to lock screen features.
- Setup Android Device Manager and make sure tracking and control of your device is enabled.
- If you use a microSD card, be aware that it cannot be wiped remotely like the phone’s internal memory (but it can be encrypted).
For Windows Phone Users:
- Sit back and relax, as tracking is enabled by default and the lock screen doesn’t allow access to anything.
The article is really worth reading. If you truly are pressed for time, skip to the part that is pertinent to your specific phone platform. The author provides much more detail on how each tracking system works, as well as what the systems can and can’t do. It may mean the difference between having a happy holiday or a blue Christmas if (when) you get separated from your smartphone.
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