Mobile phone security

Protecting your mobile phone against theft

Technology is allowing us to do more and more things through our phones – from shopping to banking to social media – as well as making calls and sending texts. Not only are our phones more valuable in themselves, but many of them will also contain valuable data, whether that's downloaded music and films, the photographs you have taken, or other personal information. As a result, mobile phones can be a very tempting target for thieves, with the loss of a phone causing great inconvenience to the user.

However, there are some simple steps that you can take to protect your mobile phone against theft including:

  • use the security features provided
  • be aware of your surroundings
  • know how to identify it when the phone is stolen

Most mobile phones have a range of security features that are intended to stop anyone else accessing and using them should they be stolen. These security features include:

  • requiring access control such as a unique code (a PIN, password or some form of pattern) or biometric authentication (such as fingerprint or facial recognition) to be entered on the user interface of your handset to unlock it
  • tracing the location of your handset using a remote service
  • wiping data from, or locking your handset remotely (for example, by using another internet enabled device)
  • a function to display a home/lock screen message to someone who may find your handset to help you recover it.
  • preventing thieves from simply resetting your handset to its factory setting in order to bypass any unique codes or other security features that you are using to protect your handset

However, these features will only protect your mobile phone if you have them switched on.

Being aware of your surroundings when using your mobile phone

Here are three simple things to consider in order to protect your handset from opportunist thieves:

  • busy locations such as concert venues, shopping centres, and public transport (where close contact with others is normal) are popular places for pickpockets, especially if your handset is visible in an open bag, or hanging out of your back pocket
  • thinking about when you use your phone – outside underground stations can be popular venues for snatch theft, as people instinctively get their handsets out to check for signal and any missed calls
  • don't leave your handset unattended in public places - you would not leave your wallet unattended, but a surprising number of people leave their mobile phone on the table while they go to the bar to order a drink, or go to the toilet