iPhone Physical Security Tips

While working on a personal mobile phone policy for work, I realized that even with the corporate phones, people are pretty much given a phone, patted on the head and told “good luck”.  Not an auspicious beginning.

So what do people need to know? 

People want to steal your phone. 
Crimes of opportunity often happen on public transit.  Thieves steal phones right from victims hands.   People are distracted by their music or their apps or just lost in thought.   When standing near a train exit, thieves with timing can grab a device and hop off a train as the doors close.   Others just hope to win a foot race on the platform. 

iPhone Stolen from Judge on DC Metro
Crime Reporter becomes Crime Victim on DC Metro
iPhone Robbed?  You’re on your own

When at dinner, many people check the phone and then leave it on the table.  Not only is it now easier to forget, if it is on the outside edge of the table someone walking by could palm the phone.  Leave the phone on the inside of the table.

The phone needs to be secured whether  its with your or not.  The third article linked above mentions a phone theft from a bag at work. 

iPhone 4 includes a Find My iPhone app.   There is also a find my iPad app.   The app allows you to log into your mobile.me account and see where your phone currently is.  You can send the phone a message, remotely lock it or remotely wipe it.   Keep in mind that even when you build the case for the police they may not be interested in following through on what they see as a petty crime.   Of course if you take a posse to retrieve the phone yourself now they’re interested…in arresting you.   Consider these apps as helpful when your phone is left in your car or at work, or when it is found by honest people.  

Generally the bad guys are just interested in reselling the phone.   Even if you don’t have state secrets, you may not want these scumbags going through your data.   Autolocking the phone and using an 8 character password help prevent that.

Some people say that if they locked their phone, an honest person finding the phone wouldn’t be able to track them down by calling people in your call history.   This issue can be addressed by creating a lockscreen background with instruction on who to call.    There is an app for that (of course) or you can just create your own image.   The new background is just for the lock screen not for your normal background.    I notice on my iPhone I no longer have the BIG battery usage indicator on the lock screen, but it is still in the upper right hand corner.   Only issue is when charging, I can’t tell if its done yet without unplugging.

By no means is this a complete security guide for mobile phones.   I hope it met the goal of raising awareness of phone theft issues.

One Comment

  1. One of the things a lot of people do is leave all the radios on all the time; this isn’t ideal. Leaving wi-fi and bluetooth on 24/7 not only wastes the battery but leaves the phone open to vulnerabilities, particularly when most people don’t reset default security settings.

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