Are you prepared for the worst?
For many of us, our phones are our lives. They hold our contacts, memories, work, financial information and even our most private, intimate moments. As important as they are, have you taken the time to secure, back up and create a plan for a worst-case scenario? How quickly could you secure and retrieve your data if you were to lose your device(s) in the next 10 minutes?
Here are a few things you can do right this second.
1. Get An Encrypted Password Manager
- Can you off the top of your head put a finger on the number of accounts you have with different service providers and the relevant login information? Chances are this is a NO.
- Do you use the same login and password across as many accounts as you can so you remember them all, no problem? Red flag!
- Or maybe your device has auto-saved every password you have so you really haven’t even thought about your password in a while? GUILTY!
In good times, a password manager is a great tool to do all of the above, with less fear that your information will be hacked. It tracks all your accounts and in most cases auto-saves the logins and passwords, even warning you when you are setting yourself up for a data breach with poor password practices. Because it can also be used to auto-login into your accounts you are free to have multiple passwords across platforms without the inconvenience of needing a constant reminder.
In bad times, your password manager is your memory bank.
When the device is gone and the FEAR, PANIC and RAGE set in, you may encounter the greatest mental fog of your life, you cannot be sure that your memory will cooperate and you will remember the important details of your logins. This was my experience.
I, fortunately, had consistently kept my logins up to date for all my client and personal accounts so I needed to remember just ONE login (I didn’t even have to remember that because the software was actively on my laptop that was safe at home).
This meant that I had a list of every account I had (which allowed me to prioritize action) and their logins so I simply signed in and ended every single active session, denying the stolen device access immediately.
Quick Fact: LastPass is my go-to. It comes with a useful basic free package but the 36USD per year is worth it. It comes with a password REMINDER instead of a hard reset so ENSURE your reminder MEANS something specific to YOU. Also, make sure your Master Password is unique, never use your master password for any other website.
2. Get familiar with the security features in your email accounts.
In my case it meant learning how to quickly disassociate my email addresses from the stolen device (something I learnt in the agonizing time after my car was broken into and my laptop was stolen in 2018). As a Gmail user I ran over to the account security section and removed the device as an approved device from the accounts.
Once done, you can safely reset with your passwords without the device receiving the notification and the thief potentially blocking the process.
3. Invest in Cloud Storage
LET IT AUTO UPDATE FREQUENTLY!!!!
BUY EXTRA SPACE!
After you have secured your accounts the next test is how much of your data you can retrieve. This is a test of your conscientiousness as all of this is going to be dependent on what steps you took BEFORE the incident.
- Where do my backups go?
- What gets backed up?
- How much space do I have?
- How up to date is my back up for my high priority files?
- How much is all this data WORTH to me?
If you cannot answer any one of those questions, stop right now and FIND OUT.
I read repeatedly about students with devices that are stolen with all their research and notes and no way of accessing the info. Autosave to the cloud is your friend. Businesspeople, this means you too.
As a Microsoft user, OneDrive is my default for documents not just for protection but for ease of access when i do not want to walk around with my laptop but want to be able to access important files if necessary that may not be saved to my Google Drive.
4. Go Analog – Just in Case
A little pen and paper never killed anyone but fighting a thief for a device just might.
Make sure you:
- Have an up to date contact list of the people who matter most to you written down and stored safely at home, because you never know when your systems and memory can fail you.
- Keep a copy of your Password Manager also written down somewhere JUST in case in your panic you cannot remember that password either or all your devices are stolen. Edit: A tech friend of mine @KadeemChanner shared that simply writing down this password may be dangerous and so you should consider ‘SALTING’. In cryptography, a salt is random data that is used as an additional input to a one-way function that ‘hashes’ data, a password or passphrase. Salts are used to safeguard passwords in storage. Here is a link to what these terms mean and how they work Hashing & Salting Explained
Remember securing these are just as important, so keep them away from your device and your person in a remote, safe but accessible location – FYI, this means NOT in your laptop bag, not visible to all and sundry that may visit your home and of course NOT in your notes on your phone!! (Some people do this…FACTS)
Edit: This list is by no means exhaustive. There are TONS of other little tips and tricks you can use to make your data that much safer.
Devices are temporary, data is forever. Secure it so that if the worst is around the corner, whatever it is, you are READY…for the aftermath.
Liked this article? Share it! Have your own tips or experiences you would like to share? Drop a comment below. Follow me on Instagram @raecallaghan