New security threats like Shellshock and Heartbleed are popping up all over the internet and this means your personal data is more at risk than ever before. But these flaws in the security measures built into our technology are not the only way you could be exploited: a stolen device could also cause a lot of headache in terms of getting back the data you have lost. These scenarios are scary but can either be prevented or the damage can be minimised if you prepare in advance.
One of the most important things to do is to protect your devices with a PIN number. Don’t use numbers that possible intruders can easily figure out like dates of birth or anniversaries. In most cases you can also activate a screen lock where you unlock the device with a pattern of some sort. Only activating the “Swipe to unlock” function will not protect your device.
In addition to the above, here are some easy-to-follow steps you can take in order to activate remote wiping and locating services in case of a lost or stolen device:
Securing your Android device
Before you start working with any Android device, first make sure that it is connected to a Google account. If you are using a Samsung device, you can also sign up for a Samsung account. This way you will be able to add your device to the Android device manager and from there be able to remotely wipe your information should you need to in the future. If you do not have this activated, you will not be able to remotely wipe the device.
To set up your Google or Samsung account you can simply go to Settings (it should be found on the Home screen of your device) from where you will see a section marked Accounts. It will probably show you what accounts have been activated before. If you do not see the ones you want to link already active, click on Add Account and follow the instructions.
Now that you have set up your account(s), you can go ahead and activate Android Device Manager. There are actually two ways you can go about doing this – a long way and a short way. The short way around is to look for the Google Settings app. Look out for a gray Google “G” logo with a gear beside it.
Tap on the Google Settings icon and you will see a list of options. Tap on the Android Device Manager option. Check the boxes next to the items that allow the Manager to remotely locate the device as well as remotely lock and erase the device.
If you cannot find the Google Settings app or prefer to go the long way around simply go to Security within your Settings. Look for an area called Device Administration and tap on Device Administrators. Here you will see Android Device Manager as an option (if you have not previously installed a different device manager). Check the box next to Android Device Manager and a popup menu will appear. It will show you the remote operations the Android Device Manager can perform including erasing all data, changing the screen-unlock password and locking the screen. Simply tap on Activate to enable this manager on your device.
You must go through this process on all of your Android devices as it does not automatically link the ones you have on the Google or Samsung account you have set up.
The process explained above may look slightly different from one type of Android device to the next but the overall idea remains the same.
For more information, check out Onsight’s post on “How to secure your Android device” on our site’s user guide.
Securing your iPhone or iPad
There is no need to purchase or download a special app to help you find a lost or stolen iPhone or iPad. Every Apple product can be tracked remotely but, once again, it needs to be set up before an eventually occurs in the first place.
First things first, set up an iCloud account. Go to your iPhone or iPad’s Settings which can usually be accessed from the Home screen. In Settings, find and tap on iCloud. If you already have an Apple ID, log into your iCloud account with these details. If you do not have an Apple ID, tap on Get a Free Apple ID. Follow the instructions given and you will eventually have your very own account.
Log into your iCloud account with your Apple ID. Depending on what device you are accessing your iCloud account from, check to see whether Find my iPhone or Find my iPad is activated. If not, tap on it to turn it on. Follow this process for all of your Apple devices (including Mac and iPod).
If you want to locate your device, simply go to http://www.icloud.com/#find and log in with your Apple ID. Tap or click on All Devices and then select the device you want to locate.
If you need more information on locking down your Apple devices, simply click through to the user guide article on the Onsight website.
It is important to remember that these locating services for your devices only work if the device that is lost or stolen is online. If it is offline, you cannot locate it. If you have an Apple product and your device is offline, the last known location will be displayed for 24 hours.
There are a variety of other apps besides Android Device Manager and Find my iPhone/Find my iPad that you can use. For Android devices you can take a look at Where’s My Droid, Plan B, Android Lost Free and Prey Anti-Theft.
If you’re looking for ways to track your Apple devices, apps like Device Locator, GadgetTrak and iHound. Of course, you should always employ the built-in apps first before resorting to any third-party apps but extra security cannot hurt.