A missing smartphone or laptop can lead to instant panic. The information they hold is more personal than the information in your wallet. This information includes files, personal financials, apps, passwords, pictures, videos, and the entirety of your digital footprint. The biggest concern is the device’s data and access to cloud accounts and websites. The thought of that being in the hands of a criminal is quite scary.
There are approximately 70 million lost smartphones every year. The owners only recover about 7% of them. Workplace theft is all too common. The office is where 52% of stolen devices go missing. Suppose a work laptop or smartphone goes missing. This can mean the company is subject to a data privacy violation. It could also suffer a ransomware attack originating from that stolen device. In 2020, Lifespan Health System paid a $1,040,000 HIPAA fine. Due to an unencrypted stolen laptop breach.
The Minutes After the Loss of Your Device Are Critical
The things you do in the minutes after missing a device are critical. The faster you act, the less chance sensitive data will be exposed.
What Types of Information Does Your Device Hold?
When criminals get their hands on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, they have access to a treasure trove. This includes:
· Photos & videos
· access to any logged-in app accounts 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
· And more
Steps to Take Immediately After Missing Your Device
As we mentioned, time is of the essence when it comes to a lost mobile device. The faster you act, the more risk you mitigate for a personal or business information breach. Here are steps you should take immediately after the device is missing.
Activate a “Lock My Device” Feature
Most mobile devices and laptops will include a “lock my device” feature. It allows for remote activation if you have enabled it. You will also need to enable “location services.” While good thieves may be able to crack a passcode, immediately turning on a “lock my device” feature can slow them down.
There is usually also a “find my device” feature available in the same setting area. Only use this to try to locate your device if you feel it’s misplaced but not stolen. Ending up face to face with a criminal is the last thing you want!
Report the Device Missing to Your Company If It’s Used for Work
If you use the device for business, notify your company immediately. It still counts even if all you do is get work email on a personal smartphone. Many companies use an endpoint device manager. In this case, the company can immediately revoke access to the company network. Immediately reporting your device missing can allow your company to act fast. This can often mitigate the risk of a data breach.
Log Out & Revoke Access to SaaS Tools
Most mobile devices have persistent logins to SaaS tools. SaaS stands for Software as a Service. These are accounts like Microsoft 365, Trello, Salesforce, etc. Use another device to log into your account through a web application. Then go to the authorized device area of your account settings. Locate the missing device, and log it out of the service. Then, revoke access if this is an option. This action disconnects the device from your account, so the thief can’t gain access.
Log Out & Revoke Access to Cloud Storage
It’s very important to include cloud storage applications when you revoke access. For example, is your missing device syncing with a cloud storage platform? If so, the criminal can exploit that connection. For example, they could upload a malware file that infects the entire storage system. They could also reset your device to resell it and delete files from cloud storage.
Active a “Wipe My Device” Feature
Hopefully, you are backing up all your devices. This ensures you have a copy of all your files in the case of a lost device. Does it look like the device is not simply misplaced but rather stolen or lost for good? If so, you should use a remote “wipe my device” feature if it has been set up. This will wipe the hard drive of data.
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Article used with permission from The Technology Press.