Cybersec Essentials

Practical tips to protect your phone from theft

Just bought a new computer? Here are the essential first steps you should take after unboxing your new device to ensure it's set up correctly.

August 17, 2021

Cellphone theft has been rising quite considerably. So much so that the chances of getting your device snatched is becoming a scarily common occurrence. In London, 314 phones are stolen everyday, which is 70% of all the personals taken. In San Francisco, 40% of all the robberies in 2012 were of cellphones. This is no wonder when we take into account that carrying a smartphone, the majority of phones stolen, is akin to carrying $300+ in one tiny piece of equipment and that there is plenty ofblack marketfor such products in the world.

So, here are some pointers to protect yourself and your phone from criminals (gathered personally by the security gnomes from Prey Labs):

10 Tips to Preventing Mobile Device Street Theft

Learn Karate

Nah, just kidding. There's no need to learn martial arts when you can simply refrain from using your phone out on the streets. A lot of cellphone robberies happen when the user is so engrossed attending a call, checking for messages or reading the latest tweet, that they don't notice when a thief is about to commit a crime or when the light pole is only a few milimeters away. Ouch.

Take cover inside

While outside, try to get in the store (building or shopping center)closest to you, to use your phone safely. If you find yourself in the middle of nowhere (with no cover near), look around to see if there is anything or anybody suspicious before taking your device out. For example, if you see a group of people staring at you intensely, slowly getting closer and closer to you... run Forrest, run!

Be aware of your surroundings

This is a must in order to avoid situations like what happened to this womanwho got her phone snatched inside a bus. Always be aware of your surroundings. That way, you will be able to react to any suspicious activity going on around you which might put your stuff (and you) in danger.

Use a handsfree unit

Alright, alright! Nobody wants to be that one person talking loudly to an invisible friend. But, it might be a good device to have at hand if you want to avoid flashing the awesomeness of your phone in front of greedy people. Nowadays, you can find one by default when you buy a new phone, but if you lost it, broke it, ate it or even threw it in the toilet, don't despair, you can also find them in all prices, shapes, and colors.

Don't leave your phone unattended

Let's say you are with a group of friends eating ice cream and chatting away. You are having a lot of fun and, inadvertently, you put your phone on the table next to your sundae. Suddenly, a hand appears, takes your phone and you see the owner of that hand running away at the speed of light. There it goes, you think. Your awesome smartphone. To avoid such tragedies, never leave your phone alone on a restaurant table, on the table bar, not even on the seat of your car where it is only a broken window away from thieves.

Do not text and walk at the same time

Yes, people do this way too often. It is true that it is almost impossible to not react to your phone's 'ding' no matter where you are. But taking it out to check and answer that message will put you in a very vulnerable position. Not only will it increase the chances of hitting yourself with a light pole but walking while texting makes you oblivious to the world around you and, sadly, the bad dudes are good at noticing these things.

Hide your phone away when you are not using it

Again, it follows the simple principle of avoiding showcasing your phone. When you keep it in places easy to access, you make it effortless for possible criminals to steal your phone.
These are some places where you shouldnotkeep your phone: the back pocket of your pants, the front pocket of your jacket, the outer pocket of your backpack, etc.

Do not to keep your personal information in your phone

According to PewInternet, today, phones are being used all the time for every and any activity, therefore, they tend to host our personal information. This includes e-mails, contact info, Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts, pictures and sometimes even banking information. Once your phone gets stolen, you can become a target for different types of scams and even blackmail. If you do have important personal information stored in your phone, always back it up. There are a lot of free and paid-to-host cloud services (such as Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive) that can sync your phone information automatically and very easily.

Password protect your device

If your phone manages to find itself at the hands ofimmoralpeople, having your phone password protected is the first thing that can stop them from accessing your basic information. Moreover, there are a myriad applicationsyou can install to password protect different files within your phone that may contain private information. Additionally, If you are serious about password protecting your stuff, I highly recommend you to go to this previous postwhich explains all about secure passwords.

Use an anti-theft software

Install anti-theft software like Prey before you get it stolen, that is to say: as soon as you buy it. This can help you as a preemptive measure. Once your phone gets lost or stolen, you can report your device as lost and the software will run its magic by sending you reports of its whereabouts and take pictures of its surroundings once it connects to the internet. Pretty cool, uh?

As grandma used to say: opportunity creates a thief. Criminals are always going to pay attention to the opportunities given to them to snatch our phones, electronics or any of our belongings. Therefore, we have to do our best to not give them any opportunity to turn us into the victims.

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