Don’t Lose It!

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - COVER STORY - By Nidhi Sin­gal

Los­ing your phone or tablet can mean ex­treme in­con­ve­nience and breach of pri­vacy. But fret not, these apps and fea­tures can track your de­vice and se­cure it, too.

A lost mo­bile phone is not just a loss of money. Any mis­use of our per­sonal and pro­fes­sional data stored on de­vices could mean real and vir­tual may­hem. While we can be ex­tra care­ful to not leave de­vices any­where unat­tended, be­ing pre­pared for the worst case sce­nario can be help­ful.

This in­cludes ac­ti­vat­ing im­por­tant set­tings and fea­tures built in the de­vice and down­load­ing apps to track the de­vice on the map, en­abling a loud alarm and even re­mote-wip­ing the de­vice if it can­not be re­cov­ered. It is para­mount that you cre­ate a cloud back-up of all the data. If backed up us­ing au­to­matic cloud backup, you can fetch your data on the new de­vice with a sin­gle lo­gin into the cloud ser­vice. Lead­ing play­ers in­clud­ing Ap­ple, Google and Mi­crosoft of­fer these fea­tures ei­ther through built-in ser­vices or apps. You can also avail of third-party apps.


Ap­ple has built a ro­bust tool in iOS that not only keeps your data safe, but also makes the de­vice un­us­able if you end up los­ing it. If you are us­ing any of Ap­ple’s de­vices – iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Mac – this ser­vice can be a boon. The app, if set up and ac­ti­vated, can lo­cate lost de­vices, dis­able them and even fully erase data us­ing the iOS app or through iCloud on a com­puter. With iOS 7, Ap­ple added an Ac­ti­va­tion Lock that makes the iPhone un­us­able with­out the owner’s Ap­ple ID or pass­word. So, if the phone is stolen, the iPhone re­mains tied to your Ap­ple ID and can’t be used with any other ac­count. Even when the iP- hone is com­pletely wiped, it will be locked down, ren­der­ing it use­less. You can ac­ti­vate it un­der Set­tings, by scrolling down to iCloud and tap­ping on ‘Find my iPhone’ and turn­ing the tog­gle on (in green). Turn­ing on ‘send last lo­ca­tion’ sends the last lo­ca­tion of the iPhone to Ap­ple when the phone is low on bat­tery. The two-fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion process adds an ex­tra layer of pro­tec­tion. But, for ‘Find my iPhone’ to work, your phone must be on and con­nected to a cel­lu­lar net­work or WiFi. Then by log­ging in to the iOS app or iCloud on the web and selecting the ‘Find iPhone’ op­tion lo­cates the ap­prox­i­mate lo­ca­tion of the iPhone. You can also Play Sound to lo­cate it, se­lect lost mode that locks the de­vice and even erase the iPhone. This fea­ture also shows the bat­tery level on the phone. When set­ting up the new de­vice, you can rest as­sured about your data. Back­ing up data on iCloud lets you re­trieve pho­tos, mails, con­tacts, cal­en­dars, re­minders, Sa­fari, notes, wal­let, etc, with a sin­gle tap.


Google, too, of­fers a one-stop so­lu­tion for a large num­ber of An­droid de­vices. The An­droid De­vice Man­ager app, which can be in­stalled from the Google Play Store, helps lo­cate and re­mote-wipe a lost or stolen phone. To set it up, you need a Google ac­count. The track­ing and wip­ing can be done by log­ging in to­droid/de­vice­m­an­ager from the web us­ing the same Google ac­count. This ser­vice can track your de­vice’s lo­ca­tion on Google Maps, sound an alarm on the phone, lock and erase pro­vided the phone is turned on and con­nected to the in­ter­net. Lo­ca­tion ser­vices, too, need to be turned on. For data back-up, Google Drive of­fers 15 GB of free stor­age with sup­port for dif­fer­ent types of files in­clud­ing pho­tos, con­tacts, docu-

ments, ex­cel sheets, etc.


Mi­crosoft has the ‘Find My Phone’ ser­vice for its Win­dows smart­phones. For Win­dows lap­tops and tablets, Mi­crosoft has a sim­i­lar ser­vice but it only helps in lo­cat­ing the de­vice, not wip­ing it. The user needs to turn on the master lo­ca­tion set­ting, log in to his/ her Mi­crosoft ac­count and even switch on the ‘Find My De­vice’ set­ting. In case of loss or theft, vis­it­ing ac­count.mi­­vices and log­ging in us­ing the same Mi­crosoft ac­count can help in track­ing the lo­ca­tion of the de­vice. A user can set up ‘Find My De­vice’ to save the de­vice’s lo­ca­tion ev­ery few hours, so it be­comes eas­ier to lo­cate it. The de­vice’s lo­ca­tion is saved to OneDrive, which is Win­dows’ cloud back-up ser­vice, from time to time. How­ever, Mi­crosoft In­tune for en­ter­prises pro­vides mo­bile de­vice man­age­ment, mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion man­age­ment and PC man­age­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties from the cloud. Us­ing this ser­vice, or­gan­i­sa­tions can pro­vide their em­ploy­ees with ac­cess to cor­po­rate ap­pli­ca­tions, data and re­sources from vir­tu­ally any­where on al­most any de­vice, while help­ing to keep cor­po­rate in­for­ma­tion se­cure. With In­tune, ad­min­is­tra­tors and users can pro­tect cor­po­rate in­for­ma­tion through se­lec­tive wipe of man­aged apps and re­lated data when a de­vice is un­en­rolled, no longer com­pli­ant, lost, stolen or re­tired from use.

There are other pop­u­lar in­de­pen­dent ap­pli­ca­tions (listed on the right) such as Drop­box that are com­monly used for data back-up on the cloud. For se­cu­rity and re­mote wipe, ser­vices such as F-Se­cure, Avast and Nor­ton can be used to pro­tect the de­vice against viruses. These also pro­vide re­mote wipe op­tion, in case there is no way to re­cover the de­vice.

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