An article posted by McAfee asserted that 50% of us would rather lose our wallets than our phones. But, despite this fact, only 4% of us proactively secure our phones. We leave our phones wide-open to viruses, hackers, and physical theft. And with the rising cost of phones these days, this makes absolutely no sense. The average price of an Android smartphone is $227, and the average price of an iPhone is $692 (thanks to Apple focusing on the premium market only and Android offering a range of extremely affordable models). Regardless of price, our smartphones are worth a lot more when it comes to the data they hold and transmit on a regular basis.
Scary fact for you: did you know that it takes a total of 19 hours to purchase a new phone and to replace all the contents of your old device? 19 hours. No wonder people would rather lose their wallets. It only takes 2½ hours to cancel your credit cards.
With all this time and money that goes into a lost phone, why are we still not securing them as we should be? In 2013 alone, over 4.5 million smartphones were lost or stolen in the United States, and odds are you were somewhere in that mix. And if it wasn’t stolen or lost, it was probably broken, cracked, or dropped in a toilet somewhere (39% of smartphone users take their phone with them into the restroom, and 19% of these people have dropped their phone into the toilet at some point).
To prevent the number of lost, stolen, hacked, and broken phones from increasing, here are some quick tricks to keep your phone fully functional and safe in your hands.
The easiest way to prevent your phone from being stolen is to keep it out of sight and out of mind. But it’s way too much to ask to keep your phone tucked away while you’re out running errands. So at the bare minimum, be aware of your surroundings and the positioning of your phone and body. Don’t tuck your phone into a back pocket and walk through a crowded mall. A jacket pocket or a pocket with a zipper is a much better alternative. Also, if you’re going to use your phone as you’re walking down a street or standing in a public area, make sure you keep an eye on where you’re going and tuck your phone into a secure spot when you’re done. If a thief was watching you, you want them to move on to the next target because you were smart enough to zip your phone up in the inside pocket of your jacket.
And always hold your phone with two hands towards the middle of your body. This behavior will help prevent someone from snatching your phone out of your hands while they pass by. Sounds like an unrealistic movie moment, but it happens more often than you think.
To keep your phone from being hacked, download anti-virus software and always be wary of public Wi-Fi hotspots. Hackers have the ability to create fake hotspots that give them the ability to monitor your phone and see everything you type, send, visit, and download.
You should also have a passcode to access your phone, as well as every app that accesses private and financial information. If your phone is stolen or lost, you’ll be happy you’ve taken these proactive steps to protect the contents inside. You should also turn off autocomplete features (as convenient as they are), and never allow your phone to remember passwords or login credentials.
The main trick here is to purchase a case, and it’s surprising how many people are brave enough to wander around this world with a naked phone. All it takes is a little bit of gravel or a slobbery 2-year old to completely destroy your phone. If you can, opt for a flip case that covers both the front and back of your phone, also known as a wallet case (although it’s highly recommended not to carry your credit cards around in these cases). Wallet cases, in particular, are extremely good at covering your entire phone and preventing damage.
Or, if you’re a more rough-and-tumble type of person who is constantly dropping your phone onto concrete or watching it splash into the sink, invest in an Otter Box or Lifeproof case. These cases are more expensive but they’re also more indestructible. They’re waterproof and shock proof, and some are even military-rated.
The sad truth is, most of the time your phone is “lost” because you leave it somewhere and don’t realize it until it’s too late. The trick is not to take it out while you’re inside a store, restaurant, or public restroom. But, again, this is way too much to ask of you. Therefore, a lost phone may be inevitable.
Instead, consider some version of a phone tracker. Lookout is a great option because you can turn on your device’s feature remotely—like the camera and the lock screen (this will help deter theft, as well). If you lose your phone, Lookout will email you a photo and the location of your device. It can even turn on an alarm to help you locate your phone.
Or if you have an iPhone, activate Find My iPhone. In the case of theft or it being left somewhere, Find My iPhone will activate a GPS locator in the device and allow you to remotely lock it, write a message on the screen, and in worst case scenarios, erase all the data if need be.