Heart pounds, palms sweat…that moment when you realise your mobile phone is missing
Mobile device losses and crime stats
It was recently reported[i] that UK government employees lost or had their mobile devices stolen at least 2,004 times in the 12-month period from 1 June 2018 – 1 June 2019. Another study[ii] reported that across Transport for London’s (TfL) network, more than 26,000 electronic devices went missing between April 2017 and April 2018. The devices included mobile phones, tablets, laptops and even drones!
These figures dwarf in comparison to findings revealed by Direct Line Home Insurance[iii]. Its analysis discovered that over 67,000 mobile phones were stolen across the UK in a 12-month period, equating to 183 mobiles phones taken every single day. This figure is based on the number of mobile phones reported stolen to the police. Although a surprising statistic it is unlikely to be a true reflection of the scale of mobile phone crime as a large portion of thefts go unreported. In some more sinister cases, thieves do not intend to sell on the device because the information stored on it is far more valuable.
Keeping your phone secure
With mobile phones being so fundamental to our daily lives it should be a given that steps are taken to safeguard not only the device but the personal and sensitive information contained upon it. Here are our top tips to safeguard your mobile device:
1. Lock your home screen
Set secure passwords (not 1234!) and enable finger print biometrics if you have it. Locking your home screen not only keeps private information private, it also protects from unwanted eyes skimming through your phone.
2. Don’t store sensitive data on your device
But if you must store sensitive data on your device, make sure it is encrypted. Data is worth a lot to thieves, especially given the amount of further information that can be glean from a phone – so protect it.
3. Use secure messaging apps
Consumer grade apps are not suitable for business communications, a fact that WhatsApp themselves make abundantly clear in their terms of service. Keep confidential messages secure by using an app with significantly enhanced security built in.
4. Exercise caution with public USB cables and ports
Even better, only use your own USB cable in public ports and buy a portable battery. It’s not just about caution, they come in very handy if you don’t have a charging socket available.
5. Update your phone software
Software updates are more than about front-end features and functionality. They often include critical patches to security holes, so it’s important to apply updates regularly.
6. Set up remote wipe
If your phone is lost or stolen, you’ll be able to wipe all of its data remotely – and therefore keep it out of the hands of cyber criminals. You can often also use remote wipe to find your phone’s location.
For more guidance take a look at our blog based on the key Secure Communications Principles defined by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
[iii] Direct Line analysis