Tip of the Week: 4 Immediate Actions to Take After Your Mobile Device Has Been Stolen

b2ap3_thumbnail_lost_device_400.jpgThieves stealing mobile devices like laptops and smartphones have reached epidemic proportions. In fact, 2013 statistics from Consumer Reports and LoJack show that two million laptops were stolen that year, along with three million handsets. Translation; it’s way more likely for your mobile device to be stolen than you probably realize.

Unfortunately, bouncing back from a stolen device isn’t as easy as just buying a new one. It’s the data stored on the device that makes it so valuable, which is why a recent survey by IDG Research shows that 50 percent of phone-theft victims would pay $500 to get their phones back, and one-third would pony up a cool one grand. If that’s not enough of an incentive for thieves to step up their game, consider how much you would pay to get back a stolen device with sensitive corporate data on it, especially if the thief was savvy enough to take full advantage of the information on the device.

And here’s the million dollar question (potentially), “What do you do next if you discover that a mobile device containing corporate data has been lost or stolen?” While there’s a nice selection of security apps and preventive solutions that will help you remotely wipe your phone and even track its location, let’s assume that you’ve lacked the foresight to install these helpful apps and the only thing keeping a thief from having their way with your data is a puny lockscreen. What then?

After you’ve panicked and ran around the office like a crazy person, stop, take a deep breath, and go into damage control mode by following these four steps:

Contact Your Device’s Service Provider
Your service provider has the ability to cut off service to the phone so that it can’t be used under your name. Depending on the make, model, and service plan, they might be able to remotely “brick” your phone, which is like a kill switch that will remotely render the device useless. Without such a kill switch, a thief will be able to swap out your SIM card so they can still use the phone, and they’ll still have access to any data actually stored on the phone’s memory.

Change Your Passwords
If a thief accesses your phone’s data, they’ll be able to view every online account connected to the device, which could potentially be dozens and dozens of accounts. Once you learn that your device has been stolen, you’re in a race with the thief to change your passwords before they can figure them out. And be sure to change the passwords to something complex so they won’t discover your passwords simply by rummaging through your phone.

Report the Incident to the Authorities
Reporting the incident to local law enforcement officials will give them a record they can use to spot trends and potentially catch the criminal. Additionally, it will give them a chance to return the phone to you, should it ever be recovered.

Contact Everybody Affected
Now comes the tough part: admitting to your staff and your clients that a device has been compromised and has put their identity at risk. In some cases, you may be legally obligated to report this incident to them, which means it’s not something that you should try to cover up in an effort to save face. In fact, if you did try to cover this up and didn’t tell clients that their identities may be at risk because of the negligence of your company, then it will come back to bite you when this information comes to light. At the end of the day, most people will appreciate being notified, and offering to pay for a year’s worth of identity theft insurance will go a long way too.

Once you’ve got the damages all sorted out, you’ll want to implement effective preventive solutions for your replacement mobile device. Regarding mobile security solutions like these, White Mountain IT Services can provide you with the enterprise-level protection you need, so you will avoid a catastrophe like this from happening again.

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