We are in the height of summer in the northern hemisphere and you have probably started or are about to start a well-deserved vacation break. It is also likely that you cannot avoid charging with your smartphone or other electronic devices for professional reasons or simply to stay connected or for leisure.
It is convenient to disconnect as much as possible, but if it is not possible, you should know that the theft of mobile phones is the order of the day and the thefts or losses that occur year after year are counted in the millions. A smartphone is a coveted target due to its high price and possibilities of sale (whole or in pieces), while its small size, the holiday traffic through crowds of people and surely the relaxation of the user facilitates its removal.
And it is a problem beyond the cost of the loss of a type of hardware that from mid-range up is not usually especially economical. That third parties can access our professional, financial or personal data can have an incalculable cost, in addition to leaving us ‘sold’ if they access our passwords and services that rely on security such as double authentication that is managed on smartphones.
Protect yourself previously
In addition to the general measures that we must adopt as prevention against the loss of any electronic device and the basic measures against theft, especially when traveling through airports, train stations, restaurants, hotels and in general public areas full of people through which we circulate these days , smartphones deserve special protection in case the worst happens, among others :
- Use a PIN code for the SIM card.
- Lock the screen with a strong password and biometric systems such as the fingerprint sensor or facial recognition.
- Use full disk encryption to protect information.
- Keep backup copies of all data.
- Password protect critical applications.
- Activate the “Find my device” function.
After the theft of mobile phones (or loss)
If you have followed the previous instructions, at least the management to protect the data will be easier. Use the “Find my device on Android” or “Find my” function on iOS to identify the phone as lost and have the device screen show a message with the number of a friend or relative so that, in case it is not involved of a theft if not of a loss and someone honest finds the device can contact you.
If after a reasonable time (or the time you deem necessary) you do not recover the device, remotely erase all the information on the device and contact your Internet service operator to block the SIM card of the terminal. Finally, you will have to purchase a new terminal and restore the data from the backup.
Additionally, you should be vigilant as thieves can use contact information to obtain even more important data such as general access accounts, Google or Apple ID through social engineering techniques.
In the worst case
If you have proof that it is a theft and you have not followed the previous prevention pauses in terms of blocking the screen and the rest, you will have to act very quickly.
Lock SIM and IMEI . It is the first and main action to take. Call your operator, explain the situation and block the SIM card to prevent them from using the terminal’s communications. In some countries, in addition to blocking the SIM card, you can add the stolen phone identification number (IMEI) to the phone company’s block list.
Lock your smartphone . From a secure device, since you will have to enter your Google or Apple ID password, block the terminal and consider the option of total deletion remotely even if this prevents you from locating it permanently.
Warn your family and friends . Warn your contacts of the situation and the possibility of receiving calls or messages from someone posing as you with requests for money or questions. They must completely ignore them.
Detach financial information . If you have credit / debit cards associated with services you use on your mobile, you must unlink them as soon as possible. It can be done from “Find my device” on Android or iOS.
Passwords . The theft of mobile phones without encryption and without prior protection means that third parties can obtain your passwords. You will have to change the one of all the applications and services that you use in the smartphones to avoid security breaches in the future.
Police report . You must file a complaint with the security forces. Not only because of the possibility of recovering the mobile later, but also to safeguard you from any action that may have been carried out with it.
Finally, maximum prudence to keep our smartphone safe from third parties in a holiday period where we surely lower our guard. Today it is an essential device that we not only use for communications and its loss is an immense headache beyond the economic loss it entails