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Protect Your Smartphone And Yourself

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These days our smartphones are practically our babies. We carry them around everywhere, sleep next to them, and if they’re missing we feel like a little part of us is missing, too. It goes without saying that losing your smartphone today has a much different impact than losing your seemingly primitive cell phone over a decade ago when they first started to gain popularity with the general public. So just how dangerous is losing your celly these days?

Your smartphone is your identity, in a nutshell
A computer security firm did an experiment and “lost” 50 smartphones in the United States and Canada, and tracked the phones’ location as well as the finders’ activity on the phones. Surprise, surprise — the finders turned out to be super snoopy. 60% of the them checked social networking and personal email, 57% clicked on a file named “saved passwords,” 43% snooped into “online banking” data, 72% looked at “personal photos,” and only half of the finders offered to return the phones, despite the fact that the owners’ names were clearly listed in the contacts. In a world of growing technology where practically anything is possible with the internet, there’s no telling how some of these individuals could use this personal information to cause harm to the original owners.

Identity fraud has reportedly risen 13% since 2010, in part due to the prevalence of smartphones. This makes sense as a person can find a wealth of personal information by getting their thieving little hands on another’s smartphone, including bank account information, text messages, emails, location check-ins, contacts, passwords, personal addresses, browsing history, photo albums and more.

So, how do you protect your smartphone baby? Unfortunately you can’t really wrap it up in a blanket and push it around town in a stroller, (well, you could, but…) here are some more logical things you can do, in the event you accidentally misplace your precious smarty.

Download these apps!
There are several applications you can download that can do wonders to help find your phone. For Android, the app “Where’s My Droid” turns up your phone’s ringer super loud and allows you to track your phone via GPS. “Lookout” app locates your phone, enables loud alarms, and backs up your contacts. And the “Plan B” app sends you the phone’s location as well.

For iPhone, the “Cylay” app shows you the location of your phone, backs up data and then wipes out your phone so the finder has no remnants of your information. The “iGotYa” app is perhaps the most clever — it’ll take a photo of the phone finder and give you its location.

You can also use “Find my iPhone” of course, a free feature that you can enable on your iPhone through iCloud in your settings. Once enabled, if you lose your iPhone you can track it using the “Find my iPhone” app on iPad, iPod touch, or another iPhone. Don’t have any of these Apple products? No problem. Just sign into www.icloud.com from any computer web browser to track it. “Find my iPhone” allows you to write a message that will display on your iPhone screen so whoever found it can clearly get the message you know your baby’s gone and you want it back. This message will appear on the screen even if it’s locked.

You can also remotely set up a four-digit passcode lock to prevent anyone from using your phone. And the “Remote Wipe” feature can be used to remotely wipe all data off your phone until it’s returned to you. Once you get it back, you can restore the data using your most recent backup on iCloud or iTunes (another reason to stay up-to-date with your backups!)

Obviously you’ll do anything in your power to not lose your smartphone in the first place, but if it still happens, fear not — these above tips can help get it returned to its rightful owner.

Kristen Bright is the social media consultant for Instant CheckmateInstant Checkmate is a personal criminal background check provider, and does not perform employment screening of any kind.

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