Protect Your Data: A Lost Phone Can Bring More Trouble
by Taylor Veal
Does your skin crawl with the thought of what would happen if you lost track of your smartphone? These days, a lot of users keep a plethora of personal information on their mobile devices, which makes a loss all the more dangerous for them. How can you make sure that your phone doesn’t accidentally become a treasure trove of information for any hackers or thieves who might try to steal it?
It all starts by being cognizant of which information you could be putting at risk. Here is a list of information that you’ll have to be wary of storing on your mobile devices whenever possible. You might be surprised by how much you could accidentally store without realizing it!
Your applications might contain information about payment methods, such as credit card numbers or bank account numbers. If this information is stolen, hackers can swipe all of your hard-earned assets. As you’d expect, most financial organizations have a pretty good handle on their security. The problem is that many of those security measures can be worked around within an organization’s mobile device management policy. If a device is lost or stolen, it’s fair to assume that, if they can get into it, the person in possession of the device will have access to whatever financial information that the assigned user would have. Before you run the risk of having your accounts compromised, contact your financial institutions and explain your position.
Passwords and Usernames
Your device’s web browser likely has some usernames and passwords stored on it, even if you’ve done so accidentally. Any usernames and passwords stored on your device can be used to gain access to apps and accounts that could hold an incredible amount of data, all ripe for the picking.
Turn Off Sync
Most browsers sync information to allow users access to the same information on multiple devices. You’ll need to turn this off in order to mitigate the chances that your new passwords are synced and provide access to the new “owner” of your lost or stolen device. Once you’ve wiped your passwords, access your browser’s settings and deselect everything you can and set a new password to encrypt your synced data. You can then start to populate passwords into all relevant applications.
Since you’re using your mobile device to access various applications, any information that you’re storing in these applications will be at risk in the event of a lost device. Even applications that are locked behind login screens with usernames and passwords can be cracked if the application stores your password and username information.
Cloud Storage Access
If you have access to a cloud storage system on your device, any data stored on it can be accessed by anyone in possession of your device. This means that any company data that’s shared with your device’s account will be exposed to anyone using your device–even if it’s not you.
Social Media Accounts
Your social media applications store your username and password so that logging in is as easy as possible. While this is great from a user standpoint, it’s also perfect for hackers or thieves who have stolen your device. They can use your device to access your social media accounts and impersonate you for a variety of misdeeds–and that’s not even mentioning any information found on your account.
We keep a lot of sensitive information in our email inboxes, it’s a fact of life. If this gets into the wrong hands, you’ll have a lot of trouble on your hands.
This is the big one. The email addresses and contact information for all of your contacts, both business and personal, has a lot of value to the bad guys.
File away your devices’ serial numbers – most electronics that change hands under these circumstances cannot be recovered, but if you want to hold hope that yours is in the vast minority, you will want to have as much information as possible. Filing pictures of your device and your device’s serial numbers can be advantageous if the police (or whomever) are able to recover a lost or stolen device. And keep data backed up – Since there is a pretty slim chance you can retrieve a lost or stolen machine, keeping copies of your device’s data will allow you to at least have a copy to use when you are forced to get a new device.
With all of this in mind, it’s critical that your company take measures to secure mobile devices–particularly those that contain or have access to your business’ assets. If you happen to lose your phone, we can wipe it if you are on Microsoft 365. To learn more about how you can protect your mobile device and your data, reach out to us at 615-826-3500.