DO THIS NOW! Protect your phone from loss or theft (and lots of other stuff too).

DO THIS NOW! Protect your phone from loss or theft (and lots of other stuff too).

Last week my phone and I parted ways. I had it in my pocket as I walked around the library, and it must have fallen out, because all of a sudden I couldn’t find it anymore though I looked thoroughly. Someone must have picked it up and pocketed it, opting out of turning it into the lost and found, because soon enough they started posting to my Facebook account.

Here’s the thing-this was a brand new cutting edge phone (the Galaxy Note II) chock full of every manner of apps to amuse and enlighten me, and as they say, there’s an app for everything. One of my apps could have been a security app that would allow me to locate and retrieve my phone from the lucky thieves who happened upon it. But in all my technological wisdom, I had not activated a single app that could help me recover my phone. And so I never got it back.

Since getting a replacement phone I’ve found a lot of easy free apps that have all sorts of tricks to catch phone thieves. Please, just do this. Install one of these. Next time your phone goes missing you’ll be able to easily retrieve it. And it’s so easy- the tap of a few buttons and you’ll be set as far as phone security is concerned.

Recommended Free Android Apps

Lookout - The free version has antivirus scanning, a locate function for if your phone goes missing, an alarm that can be remotely activated, remote tracking, and the ability to take a picture of anyone trying and failing to open your phone’s lock screen. Added bonuses are that you can also backup your contacts online. The tech support for Lookout was truly quick and responsive when I went through my ordeal last week, so they get my vote.

Avast! Mobile Security – Scans apps and URLs for viruses and malware, and allows you to remote control your phone with texts in the case of loss or theft, as well as activate a siren alarm. It also provides a controllable firewall for rooted phones (yippee!).

TrustGo – This is a critically acclaimed security app that does what the others do (scans for malware, remotely wipe your phone, backs up your data) as well as allows you to do secure web browsing i.e. avoid being phished or scammed. It also allows you to manage your data to make your phone more efficient. Pretty impressive, I’d say!

Also, in case you’re interested in how I created this list (why is one app better than the other and what are the rating criteria) check out the annual AV Test, which is a group of security-obsessed Germans that everyone trusts to thoroughly evaluating security apps.  They’re pro.

Recommended iPhone Apps

Find My iPhone – Lots of good security features on this one- including device location, a full volume alarm that can be activated remotely, and it allows you to send a message to the person looking at your lost phone’s screen (something along the lines of “Jerk! Gimme my phone back”). There’s also a remote wipe function which allows you to clear out any sensitive data.

Lookout – Same functionality as described above for Android. Again, top-notch customer support.

 

And remember, the Community Technology Center on Level 4 of the Central Library has TONS of security classes and options for you to get the help you need! Here are some upcoming classes to consider attending:

Facebook: Privacy & Security Thursday, April 25, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and Wednesday, May 22, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Staying Safe Online Monday, April 29, 2-3:30 p.m. and Thursday, May 30, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Protecting Your Computer 101 Friday, May 31, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Comments

Thank you! Do you take topic suggestions? I would love to know about installing apps that access my contacts. Does this pose a security or privacy risk? For instance, why do my Twitter and Yelp apps want access to my contacts?

do any of these apps work on the Nook color for security and theft thwarting?

For both of the Nook Color questions: any device with an Android operating system will have access to all of the apps I listed above! Just head to the Google Play store and do a search. If you encounter any difficulties with this call 720-865-1706 (the community technology center) and we'll work through it with you. ;)

I have a Nook Color which has an android operating system. I use it on the web but not as a phone. Which if any of these apps should I use for security and theft thwarting?

iPhone also has a password protect in the lockscreen. You can set it to shut down at 4 different times. Also you can set the iPhone to wipe your data after a specified number of failed passcode attempts. Lovin' me some iPhone IOS 6. :)

Will be working on this tonight! Thanks!

I've used Find my iPhone many times--not because it was stolen, but because I couldn't find it. Thanks for the post.

Great! I'm glad you found this useful. :)

THANK YOU for posting this! I have a nice new phone, and realized I'd done nothing to protect it except set up screen lock. I've now installed Lookout and tested it. Sweet!

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