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Tips on how to trace your lost handset

Pre-installed innovative applications can help to track and recover a stolen smartphone

  • By Naushad K. Cherrayil
, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 June 26, 2012
  • Gulf News

Losing a smartphone won’t just cost you the price of a new mobile. If you’re using it for mobile banking and payments or to keep personal contacts, emails, social media accounts and other sensitive information, then you’ve lost your sense of personal security.

“Feeling secure in this day-and-age is an absolute must and security features are an essential component of any great smartphone. With mobile phones becoming more like computers every day, they contain valuable data, having it stolen doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone forever,” Tareq Zaki, Product Marketing Manager, Nokia Middle East, told Gulf News.

One can certainly track and recover a stolen smartphone, he said by using the pre-installed security features or even by using third party applications.

When it comes to protecting yourself from this risk, a little common sense can go a long way.

First is to password protect or swipe pattern to lock your smartphone to deter casual curiosity seekers and then load geo-locating software, so you can find the device. Thirdly set up security software with a remote lock and/or wipe feature.

If you don’t take these precautions and end up losing your phone, it’s a good idea to immediately log on to your email, online banking and other services that you access from your phone and change all the passwords.

According to Sandeep Saihgal, Managing Director – Middle East, Research In Motion, BlackBerry smartphone users can make use of BlackBerry Protect. BlackBerry Protect is a free application designed to help find your lost smartphone, and keep the information on it secure. It allows you to back-up your contacts, text messages, calendar and bookmarks wirelessly. It’s done automatically, and as often as you choose.

“It has the ability to track a lost or stolen BlackBerry smartphone via GPS, and also allows a user to remotely lock the smartphone, display a message and force to ring loudly. Users also have the option to remotely wipe both their smartphone data and their microSD data, ensuring their privacy is fully protected even if the phone is unrecoverable,” he said.

Users can also locate their lost smartphone, he said using the built-in GPS capabilities of their BlackBerry smartphone. They can lock and display a message on their smartphone home screen for whoever may find it. Then locate it on a map and go get it. Or if they think their smartphone is nearby, simply force it to ring at full volume. It also makes it easy to restore the device settings, contacts and calendar items when switching BlackBerry devices.

“There are a number of innovative apps on Google Play [formerly Android Market] that can not only track your smartphone down, but also remotely lock, protect or erase content,” Bashar Hafez, Mena Portfolio Manager, Motorola Mobility, said.

Hafez said that in Motorola Razr, however, is inherently safe without any apps thanks to its “government-grade encryption” that protects email, contacts and calendar.

For all Nokia devices, Zaki said the ‘F-Secure’ application either comes pre-installed on the devices as a part of the platform depending on the model or can be downloaded for free from the Nokia Store. For some third party applications, users would need to pay for it, but for Nokia Lumia smartphones it’s a part of the platform.

Android apps will work overtime to reunite you with your device and keep your invaluable content off limits. An app like Android Lost, for example, will not only locate your device on a map, but also enable you to activate a host of protective features such remotely sounding the alarm, texting to speech to conspicuously announce the smartphone’s presence, wiping all content, locking the SIM, providing insight on battery life, as well as sending a list of incoming and outgoing calls to your email.

If you haven’t thought ahead and installed an app of this nature, he said there is another option. Plan B is an aptly named app that can be installed remotely and will provide an approximate location to your Gmail account. Although it won’t specify that the phone is under your bed, it will certainly narrow the search field to tell you it is at home.

 Free option


Various operating system tips to keep track of your lost or stolen smartphones. You will have to pay for some apps, but there are plenty of free options and some come with a free trial. 

Apple

In Apple there is an app know as Find my iPhone. The app works with all the Apple products. The free app requires you to have iCloud setup on your device with location services switched on. Log on to www.icloud.com and sign-in with your Apple ID. The page will show you the list of devices and their location on a map. You can remotely lock them and wipe the data.

BlackBerry

BlackBerry Protect works using your BlackBerry ID. BlackBerry ID is your single, master key to BlackBerry products, sites, services and applications, offering users simplified access, privacy and security controls and a personalised and customised experience. BlackBerry smartphone users can access the BlackBerry ID website, which offers BlackBerry Protect features, via the BlackBerry ID microsite located at https://blackberryid.blackberry.com/bbid/login/

Users need only have a BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) contract with their local provider, which will allow them to create a BlackBerry ID and in turn access all of the security features for free.

BlackBerry smartphone users can backup their device using BlackBerry Desktop Software, which can be downloaded onto any PC or Mac by visiting the BlackBerry Desktop Software microsite located at http://us.blackberry.com/apps-software/desktop/.

It allows users to sync their emails, contacts, organiser, music and media files onto their computer, thereby insuring they have the latest data backed up safely.

 Android

You need to download appropriate apps like Android Lost, TekTrak and Track and Protect and install them on your smartphone. There are also a number of innovative apps on Google Play (formerly Android Market) that can not only track your smartphone down, but also remotely lock, protect or erase content.

Once you have installed your app of choice it will remain in constant contact with a server and primed to receive messages. When you log on in distress, a request is sent to your device and a connection is made via satellite. All you need to do is to log onto a computer and set in motion whatever safety measures you wish — whether it is location or content deletion. The first step is to enable any encryption functionalities your phone may have and then install and activate an app suited to your needs.

 Symbian

For all Nokia devices, the ‘F-Secure’ application either comes pre-installed on the devices as a part of the platform depending on the model or can be downloaded for free from the Nokia Store. For some third party applications, users would need to pay for it. With ‘F-secure’ users can also easily locate, erase data and lock the phone.

Some of the software solutions include F-Secure, Track & Protect, etc. Through location-based GPS services, the exact location of the device can be traced. This can be done by sending an SMS with ‘Lock code’ to any of Nokia Belle smartphones which is an integrated part of the platform. Other methods could be possible depending on the security system being used by the handset.

Windows

F-Secure comes pre-loaded with Nokia Lumia smartphones. Nokia Lumia smartphones users can connect to any computer and lock their phone right way. For Nokia Lumia smartphones, one doesn’t need to be registered on any app or website.

They can easily locate, ring, lock and erase all data from their handset by logging onto their Windows Live account on www.windowsphone.com. Go to My Phone, Find My Phone and from here you can map your phone’s location, make it ring, lock it with a password, display a notification on it or erase the content remotely.

Comments (3)

  1. Added 10:58 June 24, 2012

    Thanks for this great article

    Aziz Khan, Dibba, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 10:20 June 24, 2012

    Is there anyway to find the iPhone, if the lost iPhone does not have 3G enabled or never connect to wifi?

    Anhar NM, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 08:27 June 24, 2012

    Thanks for this article.. very helpful one.

    Ali, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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