You can’t find your smart phone. Any missing mobile device is likely to cause panic, whether a phone, laptop, or notebook. If any mobile device has been lost or stolen, immediate action must be taken. These devices hold a good part of our lives and often, our business. Included in those things of importance are files, personal financials, apps, passwords, pictures, videos, and so much more.

The information they hold is more personal than even that which is in your wallet. It’s because of all your digital footprints. This makes a lost or stolen device a cause for alarm.

In general, people are less concerned with the device than the data inside it. Sure, iPhones aren’t cheap, but they are replaceable. It’s about the data and the access to cloud accounts and websites – not to mention accounts with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) that send codes to those phones.

What is scary is that not only has the device owner lost control of that data, but the thought that a criminal now controls it. Being locked out of accounts is severely inconvenient, but a crook having your banking passwords is horrific.

What steps to take when phone is stolen?

The actions you take in the minutes after a device goes missing are critical, whether it’s a personal or business device. The faster you act, the less chance there is for the exposure or exploitation of sensitive data.

What data is stored on a phone?

When a criminal gets their hands on a smart phone, tablet, or laptop, they have access to a good part of your personal and business life. The types of data include:

  • Documents
  • Photos & videos
  • Access to any logged-in app accounts
  • Passwords stored in the browser
  • Cloud storage access through a syncing account
  • Email
  • Text messages
  • Multi-factor authentication prompts sent via SMS

Steps to Take Immediately After Missing Your Device

Several of the steps below involve setting up your phone before it can go missing. If it is used for business, your IT services team can make sure that general Cybersecurity measures and these options are set up in the event of loss.

1) Activate a “Lock My Device” Feature

Most mobile devices and laptops will include a “lock my device” feature. It allows for remote activation if you have enabled it. Enable ‘location services’ and ‘find my device’

as well. A good thief may be able to crack a passcode but turning on these three Cybersecurity measures immediately can slow them down.

Only use the ‘find my device’ feature if you believe your device is merely misplaced - not stolen. You do NOT want to end up face to face with criminals if it has been stolen.

2) Report the Device Missing to Your Company If It’s Used for Work

If you use the device for business, notify your company management immediately, even if all you do is get work email on a personal smartphone. If the business has competent IT support, they have probably initiated strong Cybersecurity and an endpoint device manager. In this case, they can revoke access to the company network immediately and subvert a possible data breach.

3) Log Out & Revoke Access to SaaS Tools

Most mobile devices have persistent logins to SaaS (Software as a Service) tools. These are accounts like Microsoft 365, Trello, Salesforce, etc.

Use a different device to log into your account through a web application. Go to the authorized device area of your account settings. Locate the device that’s missing and log it out of the service. Then, revoke access, if this is an option.

This prevents the thief from gaining access to from your accounts by disconnecting the device from them.

4) Log Out & Revoke Access to Cloud Storage

You MUST include cloud storage applications when you revoke access. If your missing device syncs with a cloud storage platform, the criminal can exploit that connection.

They could upload malware that infects the entire storage system. They could also reset your device to resell it, and in the process delete files from cloud storage.

5) Active a “Wipe My Device” Feature

This is why it is important to backup the data on your device before it can be lost. This ensures you have a copy of all your files in the case of a lost device. Then you can use a remote “wipe my device” feature IF it has previously been set up. This will wipe the hard drive of data.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many smartphones are lost each year?


According to Kensington, approximately 70 million smart phones are lost or stolen every year, and only 7% are recovered. Given that the estimated number of smart phones in the world is 6.6 billion, that doesn’t seem like that many.

The truth is: ONE lost phone is one too many if it’s yours – more so if you use it to connect with your business network. This can mean the company is subject to a data privacy violation. It could also suffer a ransomware attack originating from that stolen device.

In 2020, Lifespan Health System paid a $1,040,000 HIPAA fine  due to an unencrypted stolen laptop breach.

Q: Can someone unlock my stolen phone?

A: Not without your passcode. Even if you usually sign in with Face or Touch ID, your phone is still protected with your passcode. If you don’t use a passcode – or use a code that’s ridiculously easy to break, like the most common password in the world – 123456, then you should be safe.

Q: Can you track a phone if the location is off?

A:  Yes. Even with the location service turned off, smart phones can be tracked through cell towers, public Wi-Fi, cell site simulators, and spyware or malware.

Q: Which phones are most stolen?

A: The type is almost evenly split between iPhones (39% of thefts) and Android phones (37%). The top three are Apple, the next two are Samsung.

How secure is your network?

As a reputable member of the IT Support Los Angeles community since 2002, IT Support LA offers a FREE, no-risk network and security assessment. It is a non-intrusive scan that allows us to deliver a comprehensive report that is yours to keep. No strings, and no obligation to ever use our Managed IT Services.

The best defense is the best Cybersecurity to protect your data from theft, and a top-notch Managed IT Services firm to ensure continued reliability and defenses against newly emerging threats.

With our 100% Money Back Guarantee in writing, we offer a risk-free way for prospective clients to try us out. Because we do not require a ‘hard’ contract, our clients can fire us at any time with 30 days’ notice. We have to be good.

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