5 Critical Steps You Must Do When Your Mobile Phone Is Missing
You’re sitting in a taxi, frantically checking your pockets, your bag…where did you put it?
Then, suddenly, it dawns on you.
As your plane levelled at 35,000 feet, you slid your smartphone into the seatback pocket.
But now you are cruising home along the Monash Freeway (sorry, crawling along the Monash).
And you can’t believe you have left it onboard.
It’s 2022, and no one wants to go to an airport.
Tullamarine is no different. The thought of going back to find your phone is exhausting.
I mean, have you seen queues for check-in, security and baggage?
33% of all Australians now use digital wallets
You know a smartphone, tablet, or laptop is the centre of our personal lives. Everything we need to run our lives is on our devices. This includes personal financials, files, apps, passwords, pictures, videos, and so much more.
The information held is more personal than even your wallet or purse. The pandemic has accelerated the switch to a cashless society.
Making carrying your wallet a thing of the past.
That’s why losing your device or having it stolen is a big deal. It puts all the data stored on your device at risk. Hackers can access the information you’ve stored in the cloud and on websites.
Did you know only 7% of lost smartphones are recovered?
Every year, globally, a staggering 70 million smartphones are reported lost.
Unfortunately, most end up in the hands of criminals, with only 7% of owners being able to recover them.
Each year, Australians report around 150,000 smartphones stolen.
Workplace theft is widespread, where 52% of stolen devices go missing. And when a workplace laptop or smartphone is lost, your employer can be exposed to a data privacy breach.
Worst still, the risk of a ransomware attack from the stolen device increases.
In 2020, Lifespan Health System (LHS) paid a $1,040,000 HIPAA fine. This was because of an unencrypted stolen laptop breach.
Every Minute Counts
What you do in the first minutes of losing your device matters – whether it’s a personal or business device.
The faster you act, the less likely your data will fall into the wrong hands.
What Types of Information Is Found on your Device?
When criminals get their hands on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, they have access to a treasure trove, including:
● Videos and Photos
● Access to any system logged in on the device
● Passwords stored in a browser
● Cloud storage access through a syncing account
● Text messages
● Multi-factor authentication prompts that come via SMS
Steps to Take When Your Device is Missing
- Activate the “lock my device” option
- Report your work-issued device missing to your employer
- Log Out and revoke access to SaaS tools
- Log Out and revoke access to cloud storage
- Active a “Wipe My Device” feature
1. Activate Lock My Device
Most mobile devices and laptops include a “lock my device” feature. It allows you to lock your device remotely with your PIN, pattern or password.
For this to work, you will need to enable “location services” for tracking. While well-resourced thieves may be able to crack a passcode, turning it on can slow them down.
Some devices will allow you to add a message or phone number to the lock screen when activated.
What about “find my device?”
Like getting lost in the Chadstone car park, losing your device for a while can be equally frustrating. Luckily, most devices have a feature to “find my device”.
But if you find it in an unknown location, it’s best to report it missing to the police.
2. Report your work-issued device missing to your employer
(Unless you were doing Christmas shopping at Chaddy when working at home)…
But seriously, you should immediately report your missing work-issued device to your employer.
It doesn’t matter what you use the device for, even if it’s email.
Many companies will use an endpoint device manager to revoke network access immediately.
As soon as your employer acts, they lower the risk of a data breach.
3. Log Out and Revoke Access to SaaS Tools
Melbourne seems to be in a constant state of neverending roadworks. Level crossing removals, the Monash needing another lane or installing bike lanes.
Driving around Melbourne is like being continuously connected to another big build project.
Equally, your mobile devices have continuous logins to many software applications (or. SaaS, which is industry jargon for ‘software as a service).
You know apps like Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, Trello or Slack.
Using another device, log into your account through a web application. Then go to the authorised device area of your account settings. Locate the missing device, and log it out of all your services.
Then, revoking access is a good idea if this is an option.
Now that you have disconnected your device from your account, a criminal can’t gain access.
4. Log Out and Revoke Access to Cloud Storage
You need to revoke access to any cloud storage applications.
Is the missing device synced with a cloud storage platform?
Here’s the thing, if your device is syncing to the cloud, a criminal can use that to their advantage.
The hackers could upload a malware file that infects the entire storage system. Criminals could also reset your device to resell and delete files from cloud storage.
5. Active a “Wipe My Device” Feature
Regular backing up of your files and data across your devices is crucial.
But you don’t need it until it’s gone.
If it’s clear that your device is stolen or lost for good, there is one final step.
You should remotely “wipe my device” option if you have set it up. And when they close an outbound lane in the Burnley Tunnel in peak hour, you know you can’t turn back.
It’s the same for permanently wiping your device’s hard drive.
There is no turning back.
Do You Need Mobile Device Security Solutions?
The painstaking trip to and from Tullamarine is already a mission.
Be sure to have a worry-free flight with secure mobile device management in place.
No matter the size of your business, protecting your devices is critical.
Oh and one last thing you should do. Contact your Managed Services provider. They can do a lot of this heavy lifting for you.
About the author
Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.