Securing your Smartphone Against Theft

By | May 27, 2016

Smartphones are now part of our lives, and losing one is certainly a devastating experience. With the high end mobiles that cost a fortune, this might mean loss of a few months’ investment. This makes securing your device a priority. Thanks to technological advances, recovering your lost smartphone is much easier, if you know how to.

Every phone has a unique number known as the International Mobile Equipment Identification number, IMEI. This number gets passed along each time a device connects to a mobile network during the verification process. And this is our magic number in this case, which can be used to track your phone, even if it is wiped (More on that below).

Getting your IMEI

First, you need to note down your IMEI while you still have your phone, and keep it safe. You should also try to always keep your receipt, as that is your proof of purchase if that becomes necessary. This is the basis of mobile phone security. The IMEI number is printed on a sticker under the battery, where the name of the Manufacturer is located. This is a convenient way to recover the IMEI on a ‘dead’ device, but the sticker can be removed. Also, the newer metallic devices are uni body, meaning you can’t simply remove the back cover and look for the IMEI. To access the IMEI, and the serial number also, you just need access to the dialer. Dial the code *#06# . This will cause the IMEI to pop up, and you can note it. This code to view the IMEI works on every mobile device.

Android Device Manager is a handy application in securing your Android smartphone. This application allows you to remotely lock your phone, if you belive it has been lost. You can ring your device if you believe you just misplaced it. If you report your device as lost, device manager will start tracking the location of your phone, and report back where the phone is located. You can use this information to track your device as soon as it gets lost. No warranty needed here.

Securing your data

One important thing to do is to secure your personal  data. The simplest way to do this is by locking your phone to prevent unauthorised access. There are several options at your disposal, from patterns to complex alphanumeric passwords. If your device is stolen, one has to wipe all the data off in order to use the phone. With the recent versions of iOS, if a decryption key is entered incorrectly for 10 times the device is wiped automatically. Thus, your data cannot be misused.

Those unwilling to lock their devices, not all is lost. One can still use android device manager to lock the phone remotely. Remote wipe is also an option. Personal data is something very important these days. For example, if one has access to your unlocked phone with all your online accounts logged on, they can parade as you. From your social media, email address and your bank account. Call me paranoid, but this is a reality.

Recovering your device

When the unfortunate does happen and you do lose your phone, go down to the nearest police station, and report your case. If you had activated Android Device Manager, check out the paragraph below. While there, also get a warranty, to use in tracking down your phone. Mobile operators will not help you unless you get the warranty. In most cases, the investigation department will do the tracking for you instead.

As mentioned previously, the device sends it’s IMEI each time it registers on a  mobile network. This means once the person who has your phone plugs in a new SIM card and connects to a network, the operator knows the IMEI a client number is using to connect. Thus, if you have reported your phone as missing, and the serial number is detected on the network, the police is then notified that the mobile has been activated, and who is using it. The location of the user is also sent along. Thanks to the POTRAZ requirements that every SIM card be registered, that means the person using the phone is known as well. In the cities where there are many small base stations, the person’s location can be narrowed down to a few metres, without the use of GPS.

The rest of the recovery process is in  the hands of the police, and you just have to prepare yourself for a series of court sessions. This is where the proof of purchase comes in handy, in proving yourself as the owner.

Securing yourself against “Stealing a phone”

In  light of the above, you should be wary of buying second hand phones, unless you are willing to spend the weekend behind bars. If you fail to prove that you only purchased the device, and you didn’t know it was stolen, you are the one who will be charged with theft. As a rule of thumb, only buy from credible stores, where you can trace back to. After all, our parents taught us if it’s too good to be true then it’s not true. We all know the Galaxy S7 costs $900, not $150.

If we all took the steps necessary in securing our devices, smartphone theft would quickly become a thing of the past. Your move, I just made mine. 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.