If there’s one group of people who love vacation more than the vacationers themselves, its thieves. Tourists and travelers have always made easy marks for criminals, but now that everyone has — and travels with — smartphones and tablets, they are even more lucrative targets.
Part of the concern about stolen devices is, as it has always been, a financial one. Apart from just the value of the device is the fact that many thieves will use a smartphone or SIM card to dial premium numbers and run up huge bills on carrier plans before they are reported stolen.
The greater concern, however, is the potential theft of sensitive information like account passwords, contact information and personal data. Banking passwords and one-time passwords used for mobile apps are at danger too. Once thieves have access to this range of data, it’s a small and easy step to outright identity theft.
Which means that the many precautions that smart travelers take to protect themselves and their belongings when traveling, these days that must include a plan for what happens if devices are lost or stolen.
- First, write down the IMEI (the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity — think of it as the VIN for your car) of your mobile device. This will be located where the battery or SIM card is on a device.
- Contact your service provider before traveling for contact information in case a device or SIM card is stolen. Note that if the domestic and international numbers for such services are likely to be different, so make sure to get the appropriate contacts based on your destination.
- Just as with a camera, wallet or passport, don’t leave devices unattended in public spaces. The same goes for hotel rooms, unless there is a safe in the room for storing valuables. And beware of pickpockets in public spaces, particularly popular tourist spots or transit hubs like airports or train stations — the more crowded a venue is, the easier it is for a pickpocket to do their jobs.
Yet of all of the safety precautions to take as a traveler, installing anti-theft software on mobile devices should be at the top of the list.
Kaspersky Mobile Security offers wide-ranging protection for Android device owners that is particularly useful for preventing data theft from stolen devices. Users who use KMS on their Android devices are able to manage lost or stolen devices remotely by blocking them, can delete all private information and can even track these items down through GPS and potentially identify the person who stole it.
Through the KMS Web Management portal users can track the lost device and can also execute commands remotely that can block their smartphone, delete information, and even wipe the data from it by resetting it to the original factory settings. A feature called Mugshot can collect data about the thief and gives the device’s owner the ability to activate the device’s camera to take and upload a picture of the thief to the web portal.
These remote management and data protection capabilities are all fallback options that will hopefully only be useful in a worst-case scenario. Device owners should always be cautious about using their gadgets in public and should keep them locked in a safe in their hotel rooms whenever possible. But because the worst can happen, travelers should always be prepared, and having a security platform like KMS is an essential part of that preparation.