6 Ways to Protect Your Mobile's Data

If you or your staff use a phone or tablet to access company info, even just emails, you need to be prepared for theft or loss

Written by Cybele Negris

Losing your phone or having it stolen is more than an inconvenience. It has major consequences in terms of security and lost productivity. If you own a business and your employees use their phones or tablets to access or share company data, I recommend that you mandate some of these simple actions and apps to help protect (and even retrieve) your data if your device ends up in the wrong hands.

1. Know your IMEI number

The International Mobile Equipment Identity is a unique number that identifies your mobile device. If a phone, tablet or other mobile device is stolen, most carriers in Canada can blacklist the IMEI so a thief can’t use the device even if her replaces the SIM card.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association and Canada’s wireless carriers announced a plan of action last year to help law enforcement agencies stop the theft of wireless devices. As of September 30, 2013 the authorization of any GSM or LTE wireless device on any Canadian network will include verification that the IMEI number of the device has not been reported lost or stolen on any Canadian network.

To find your IMEI number go to the dial screen of your device and type *#06# and your IMEI will be displayed. Alternatively, open up your phone, take the battery out and you will see the IMEI code listed on your phone.

2. Back up your data frequently

If you haven’t backed up your data, anything stored (images, files, communications) will be lost along with your device. Worse, you risk that data being compromised in the wrong hands. If your data is backed up, you can get your carrier or use an app to remotely wipe out the data on your phone if you know it has fallen into the wrong hands.

For help backing up your iPhone to iCloud, go here. Blackberry users can backup using the desktop software. Android backup instruction, again, depend on the manufacturer. In the case of a Samsung Galaxy S4, go to Settings/Accounts/Backup Options/Cloud and you can select the provider that you want to use to backup Contacts/Calendar/SMS/MMS/Images/Video€“Samsung offers 50 Gigs on Dropbox for twp years. You can back up your Android contents to Google servers and restore it on another phone. Everything is tied to the Gmail account that you entered into the phone.

3. Set up a SIM lock or pin

Locking your SIM card is helpful to reduce voice and data usage by thieves. You will be prompted to enter the Personal Identification Number every time you power on your phone.

4. Password or PIN protect your phone

When enabled, anyone who picks up your mobile device has to type in the correct password/PIN in order to use it. Make sure you set the limit of password attempts to a fairly low number (most phones don’t allow more than 10 times). Finally ensure the “security time out” or “inactivity time out” limits are also set to fairly short times so that if the mobile device is left idle for 5 minutes or less, the screen is automatically locked. Don’t forget to choose a difficult to guess password with at least six characters and a mix of symbols, letters, numbers as it makes it more difficult and time consuming for a thief to hack in.

The process varies. If you have an iPhone, follow these instructions; Blackberry users can find information here. With Android phones, it depends on the manufacturer. In the case of a Samsung Galaxy S4, go to Settings/My Device/Lock Screen to set a password.

5. Let your company IT department know to change passwords

If you store passwords on your phone or have any sensitive company data, make sure you change all of your passwords right away. Make sure your company IT department is aware as well so that company passwords are updated.

6. Encrypt any sensitive data

If you have company data on your phone, your IT department should help you enable encryption. Encryption stores your phone’s data in an unreadable form requiring the user to enter the encryption PIN or password (in some devices, it is the same as your phone’s lock-screen PIN/password) to decrypt the data to make it readable. Note that once you encrypt your phone, you can’t disable this without doing a factory reset.

In addition to protecting your data, you might also be able to find your lost device.

Find Your Phone App

Many smartphones have a feature to view the current location of your device on a map, make it ring (even if it’s in silent mode), or display a custom message on your locked device to provide instructions about how to contact you. If your device is stolen, you can remotely lock it, change the password, or delete all of the data from your device.

Apple’s Find My iPhone app can be used for iPod, iPhone or iPad.

There are many apps for Android users to choose from, but Lookout is very popular. Also available for iPhone, the app has a number of great security features such as virus scan, contacts backup and, most importantly, missing device. Its Scream feature sounds a loud alarm even if the phone is on silent, great if you lose the phone at home and had it on silent. Locate tells you where the phone is if it’s on. If you battery is dead, Signal Flare will have automatically saved your phone’s last location before it died. Lock Cam takes a picture of the thief trying to access your phone. After three failed attempts to unlock your phone, it records the phone’s GPS location. The remote lock and remove wipe features are available with the app’s paid version.

Blackberry Protect is already in every Blackberry handset’s device settings. Sign in with your BlackBerry ID and follow the instructions to enable the app.

Cybele Negris is president and co-founder of Vancouver-based Inc., Canada’s registrar and one of the country’s leading providers of web hosting and other internet solutions. She has been on the PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs for the past nine years.

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This column is reposted with the permission of Business in Vancouver, which posted it originally on

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