Wireless Device (Smartphone) Security
Last Reviewed: May, 2018
The theft of wireless devices, particularly smartphones, is sharply on the rise across the country, according to many published reports. The high resale value of these high-tech phones has made them a prime target for robbers and the personal information contained on the device that could be used by identity thieves. A smartphone is a minicomputer holding quantities of personal information that requires protection, just like computers and laptops. Users, especially teenagers, are not taking simple, necessary steps to protect their smartphones from thieves and hackers.
The Federal Communications Commission offers tips on protecting your smartphone and on what to do if the smartphone is lost or stolen.
How to Safeguard Yourself against Wireless Device Theft
- Consider your surroundings and use your device discreetly at locations in which you feel unsafe.
- Never leave your device unattended in a public place. Don’t leave it visible in an unattended car; lock it up in the glove compartment or trunk.
- Write down the device’s make, model number, serial number and unique device identification number (either the International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) or the Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) number). The police may need this information if the device is stolen or lost.
- Review your warranty or service agreement to find out what will happen if your phone is stolen or lost. If the policy is not satisfactory, you may wish to consider buying device insurance.
How to Protect the Data on Your Phone
- Establish a password to restrict access. Should your device be stolen or lost, this will help protect you from both unwanted usage charges and from theft and misuse of your personal data.
- Install and maintain anti-theft software.
- Make your lock screen display contact information, such as an e-mail address or alternative phone number, so that the phone may be returned to you if found. Avoid including sensitive information, such as your home address.
- Be careful about what information you store. Social networking and other apps may allow unwanted access to your personal information.
Apps are available that will:
- Locate the device from any computer;
- Lock the device to restrict access;
- Wipe sensitive data from the device, including contacts, text messages, photos, emails, browser histories and user accounts such as Facebook and Twitter;
- Make the device emit a loud sound (“scream”) to help the police locate it.
If your phone is stolen, report the theft to local law enforcement immediately and notify your carrier. Your carrier may be able to block information and disable the phone.
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