Is Your Smartphone’s Security Working?
August 17, 2017
Antitheft software is saving stolen smartphones everywhere. In San Francisco, phone-related robberies have dropped by 50 percent from 2013 to 2016 since the passage of the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act. This legislation makes it mandatory for manufacturers like Google and Apple to install theft-deterring software into their products. This includes activation locks and remote device erasure software.
Ensure the built-in capabilities of your iPhone or Android are on and activated with these guidelines:
iOS: Find My iPhone
Each iPhone with an iCloud account includes Find My iPhone software and its own Activation Lock feature. Find My iPhone helps locate your phone’s last known location, while Activation Lock asks for the username and password associated with the device. Access Find My iPhone by visiting the phone’s Settings > Apple ID. From there, you can select the device you’re using and either enable or disable the feature, as well as see your currently lost device on a map. Turn on the location access for the Find My iPhone app by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
A stolen iPhone’s Activation Lock prevents thieves from using their own account on the device. If you’re selling your smartphone or giving it to a friend, make sure to turn off Find My iPhone and remove your account from the phone itself. You can turn off Activation Lock once your account has been removed and Find My iPhone is off.
Android: Find My Device
Google’s device tracking software, Find My Device, can be found under your smartphone’s settings page by going to Open Settings > Google > Security. Turn on “Remotely locate this device” and “Allow remote lock and erase.” After this, you can find your Android from any browser you sign into through your Google account. Just by typing “find my phone” into Google, you can see if your Find My Device software is enabled and check on your phone’s latest location.
It’s also necessary to unhide your Android from Google Play, so adjust your phone’s visibility by going to Google Play’s settings page. Thieves that use the factory reset to try and claim the phone as their own will not be able to do so—they have to prove they’re the owner of the Google account. According to Google, “You can sign in with any Google Account previously added and synced to the device as an account or user, but not as a guest. If you can’t give this information during setup, you won’t be able to use the device at all after factory reset.”
Source: “Turn on Your Phone’s Kill Switch So It’s Useless If Stolen,” Lifehacker.com (July 31, 2017)
Updated: February 21, 2020