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What Should You Do to Reduce Risk When Your Mobile Device Goes Missing?

The loss of a smartphone or laptop is one of the few things that causes instant panic. We live a great deal of our lives on these devices. A lot of information is stored on them, such as files, financial records, apps, passwords, pictures, videos, and so on.

It is more personal than even the information contained in your wallet. The reason for this is your digital footprints. The loss or theft of a device is therefore a cause for alarm.

Often, it’s not the device that causes the most concern. It’s the data on the device and access to cloud accounts and websites the device has. It’s frightening to think that that could end up in the hands of criminals.

Every year, approximately 70 million smartphones are lost. About 7% of them are recovered by their owners. Theft in the workplace is all too common. Almost half of all stolen devices go missing from the office.

It’s even worse if it’s a laptop or smartphone that goes missing at work. The company may have violated data privacy laws. That stolen device could also be used to launch a ransomware attack.

Lifespan Health System paid a $1,040,000 HIPAA fine in 2020. The breach was caused by an unencrypted stolen laptop.

The Minutes After the Loss of Your Device Are Critical

In the minutes following the loss of a device, it is critical that you take action. Whatever the device, whether it’s personal or business, this is the case. It is less likely that sensitive data will be exposed if you act quickly.

What Types of Information Does Your Device Hold?

Criminals have access to a treasure trove when they get their hands on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Among these are:

  • Documents
  • Photos & videos
  • Access to any logged-in app accounts on that device
  • Passwords stored in browser
  • Cloud storage access through a syncing account
  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Multi Factor authentication prompts
  • And more

Steps to Take Immediately After Missing your Device

In the event of a lost mobile device, time is of the essence. Acting quickly mitigates the risk of a breach of personal or business information.

The following steps should be taken as soon as the device goes missing.

Activate a “Lock My Device” Feature

Almost all mobile devices and laptops come with a “lock my device” feature. When enabled, it allows remote activation. It is also important to enable “location services.” Good thieves may crack a passcode, but turning on location services immediately could slow them down.

What about “find my device”?

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. You don’t want to end up face to face with criminals!

Report the Device Missing to Your Company If It’s Used for Work

Notify your company immediately if you use the device for business purposes. It still counts if you get work email on your personal smartphone. It is common for companies to use endpoint device managers. As a result, access to the company network can be revoked immediately.

If you report your device missing immediately, your company will be able to act quickly. In many cases, this can reduce the risk of a data breach.

Log Out & Revoke Access to SaaS Tools

Mobile devices typically have persistent logins for SaaS tools. SaaS is an acronym for Software as a Service. Accounts like Microsoft 365, Trello, Salesforce, etc.

You can log into your account through a web application using another device. Go to your account settings and select authorized devices. Locate the missing device and log it out of the service. If possible, revoke access.

The device is then disconnected from your account, so the thief cannot access it.

Log Out & Revoke Access to Cloud Storage

When revoking access, be sure to include cloud storage applications. Does your missing device sync with a cloud storage platform? This connection can be exploited by the criminal if it exists.

Malware files could be uploaded that infect the entire storage system. Additionally, they might reset your device so that it can be resold, deleting the files from your cloud storage as a result.

Need Mobile Device Security Solutions?

No matter what size your company is, mobile device management is crucial. Get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more about our endpoint security solutions.

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