In today’s hyper-connected world, a seemingly diminutive object—this small, rectangular-shaped electronic—has become the repository of nearly every aspect of our lives. Every day, new and personal information gets added to this advice, including login credentials, banking app passwords, photographs, and other sensitive data that can turn our lives upside down. Ironically, it is still one of the top personal items that people easily lose.
Losing our mobile devices has now become more than just a pricey inconvenience. It renders the misplacer vulnerable to a myriad of threats, including data breaches, identity theft, and financial losses. Thus, the moment you lose sight of your phone and have exhausted all places where it might be, then it may be safe to assume the worst.
Impact of Losing Mobile Devices
In worst-case scenarios, phone thieves tend to immediately hack into your system, change your password, and lock you out of your emails to delay your recovery attempts while they can freely run their scheme. In just hours of being lost, these opportunists can ruin your entire life in many ways. Even before realizing you have a mistet mobil (lost mobile), you can be completely locked out of all your emails and lose access to your own personal data, breaching security and safety. Your password and login information can be accessed, and we all know that most people like us are lax enough to reuse passwords across all important accounts, including our banking apps and business accounts.
Additionally, with full access to your bank apps, they can make unauthorized purchases using your linked credit cards and Apple or Google Play. Banks and credit card providers have now implemented robust security measures, such as a two-factor authentication process, but with access to your mobile phone, hackers can easily bypass that. Thus, it may also mean a more complex process of proving fraudulent activities, especially when these transactions are not promptly reported.
More than financial losses, your personal accounts can also be used for phishing scams that target families and friends. These scammers can find sensitive photos or information to blackmail you or mine enough personal data to ultimately steal your identity. They can gain insight into your daily activities and behavioral patterns, get details about your economic status, and tailor your phone’s activities so it will not raise any red flags to the security gateways.
The list is basically endless. The funny thing – though not really – about all of this is that the costs associated with replacing the device may be the most menial consequence of losing your mobile phone. To add insult to injury, this article is a fun read about your psychological experience when losing your smartphone as you go through the five stages of grief.
Tips and Tricks for Managing a Lost Mobile Device
Amidst the panic and distress that comes with the harrowing experience of losing a phone, taking swift and strategic action becomes the key to mitigating the risks associated with such a loss. Contrary to the initial reaction of any average hvermannsen (everyman / ordinary person), losing your phone does not necessarily equate to your life being over. There are steps and tricks to help you navigate this unsettling scenario.
#1. Utilize Built-in Tracking Apps
The initial step upon discovering a missing device is to leverage the built-in tracking functionalities offered by various platforms. Services like Find My iPhone or Android’s Find My Device serve as invaluable tools in locating the device’s last known location. However, it is also important to note that you should configure this feature beforehand to ensure it will work when needed. When set up correctly, you may have better chances of reclaiming the lost device or expediting the recovery efforts.
In setting up, ensure you are signed in on your Google or Apple account and turn on pertinent permissions, such as location, Find My Device, and Store Recent Locations. You must also create a 2-step verification backup code and have the device still be connected to mobile data or WiFi. Staying online is especially tricky when the phone is stolen; however, note that when the “Store Recent Location” feature is turned on, your device can still be found even when it is offline.
#2. Contact Authorities and Service Providers
When your chances of reclaiming the device are slim, immediately contact the authorities and relevant service providers. Reporting the loss to law enforcement, especially when the loss happened in a public place, not only registers the incident but also assists in tracking and recovering the device. Alerting your service providers also enables the deactivation of your SIM card, effectively preventing unauthorized usage and protecting sensitive data.
#3. Implement Remote Locking and Data Wiping
In safeguarding personal information, remote locking and data wiping are indispensable measures. This capability is included in the Find My iPhone or Find My device apps, so when you configure it correctly, you will also be able to remotely lock and erase your data by going to the appropriate website, depending on your phone’s OS.
Specifically, to lock and erase data on an Android phone, you will need to ensure that the device is still turned on and connected to the internet. It must also be signed in on your Google account and visible on Google Play. To minimize the risk of potential data breaches or misuse of personal data, you can use your 2-Step Verification backup code to recover your account and promptly change all your passwords.
On the other hand, iPhones can mark their device as lost on the iCloud website and follow the instructions shown on the screen if you wish to show your contact details on your lost device or when someone uses their iPhone or smartphone to scan your AirTag. Fortunately, they also have a Find My Network feature to locate any offline device within 24 hours after it’s turned off or up to 5 hours when it’s in power reserve mode.
#4. Prioritize Prevention Measures
Prevention is always the best defense, and to protect your device from opportunists, regularly back up your data to secure cloud services or external drives. This practice ensures that crucial information remains accessible even in the unfortunate event of a lost device. Moreover, setting up robust passwords and enabling two-factor authentication adds layers of security, fortifying the device against unauthorized access.
For Android Devices, you can manually or automatically back up your devices through the Google One app. It typically takes up to 24 hours and lets you select crucial data for backup. If you disable Google One’s Backup on your device, your backup data will be removed, but any photos and videos you previously backed up will still be preserved in Google Photos. Additionally, if your device remains inactive for 57 days, the backed-up data, excluding photos or videos, will also be erased.
For iPhone and Apple devices, backing up your data means storing it in your iCloud storage (although you can also opt to do it through your Google account), which you can do manually or automatically, depending on your preference. To ensure a seamless backup process, you will need to connect your device to a power source and that the device’s screen is locked. You will also need to be connected to a WiFi network and that you have enough storage space in your iCloud.
The loss of a mobile device can be a distressing ordeal, laden with potential risks. However, by swiftly implementing these tips and tricks, individuals can significantly mitigate the associated vulnerabilities. These proactive measures not only aid in potential recovery efforts but also serve as a shield, protecting personal information and ensuring a more secure digital footprint amidst unforeseen circumstances.