Five Preemptive Steps to Take Before Your Mobile Devices Are Stolen

Paul Mah
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Security Vulnerabilities at All-time Highs for Mobile Devices

Mobile security recommendations for consumers and administrators.

The use of smartphones has skyrocketed in recent years, and is now a repository for the vast amount of personal and work data that mobile-empowered workers are able to bring everywhere. Given its widespread use and portability, however, it is inevitable that many mobile devices will get misplaced or stolen.


With this in mind, what are some preemptive steps that businesses can take to protect the sensitive data on these devices before disaster strikes? We've listed five preemptive steps for mobile workers to take below.


Set a device password


Most of the anxiety associated with misplaced or stolen mobile devices will not exist if we would just set a device password. (You will still feel terrible about losing your phone though.) Remember to configure the device password to automatically kick in after a specified period of inactivity. For an additional level of security, opt to "Erase Data" after a certain number of failed attempts; it's optional on the iPhone and configurable between 1 to 10 wrong attempts on the BlackBerry.


Be sure to leave a message on the lock page on an alternative means to contact you, too. I've once picked up a locked mobile phone without any accessible information on how I could return it. Though this is not possible on a non-jailbroken iPhone, one way around this limitation is to take a photo of your message and configure it as your lock screen image.


Where possible, encrypt the data


Some smartphones offer the option to encrypt device memory as well as data stored on removable media cards. The former offers protection against advanced methods of breaking into the BlackBerry hardware, while the latter will render the media card indecipherable from an external card reader. Users of the iPhone 3GS should also upgrade to iOS 5, which offers a much better mechanism for data security than earlier versions of the iOS platform.


Install software to perform a remote wipe


A data wipe of smartphones and tablets connected to an Exchange Server can generally be done, though this is implementation-specific and will only remove data that is synced by Exchange itself. BlackBerry smartphones on BES or BlackBerry Cloud Services can be wiped remotely, though other platforms may require some initial configuration or the installation of third-party software.


Back up your contacts


As many SMBs or SOHOs may not be linked to an Exchange server or a centralized directory service, it makes sense to perform regular backups of contact data. This is a relatively simple process that can be initiated using free, phone-specific services. An alternative that should work on most phone operating systems would be to sync to a cloud service such as Google Contacts as a backup.


Make a list of passwords to change


Finally, users may want to quickly change the passwords of various online services associated with the lost mobile device as an additional precaution. Some examples would be the various social media apps, email passwords or even passwords saved by the Web browser. Make a list of passwords that requires changing ahead of time to help you perform the task in a cool and methodical fashion.


Do you have other suggestions to add on this topic? Feel free to add feedback in the comments section below.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Feb 27, 2012 3:34 PM Corey Corey  says:

I have protected my phone with a password and also activated  a nifty little program that will wipe out my phone if someone tries more than a certain number of times to log into my phone.  I have not backed up my information so that was a great tip! We rely on our phones so much it is hard to imagine loosing all of that information and even worse someone using that information.

Jun 15, 2013 4:12 AM Dean Rabbani Dean Rabbani  says:
If you had a Rewardid Label on Sun Glasses, you would probably get it back even after stolen or theft.These labels have a unique ID # which connects to the owner's online profile.When someone finds a lost item, they can plug the ID number into our database to access the owner's contact information. RewardId Label Reply

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