Best Practices for Identity Theft Protection of Devices

This week’s blog is adapted from a recent article by Lisa Gerstner from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. She addresses what to do of your personal computer, smartphone, or other device is lost or stolen. We all know these devices are embedded with a treasure trove of personal information.

A thief who steals your device may be able to access your e-mail, view sensitive documents as well as gain access to your personal finances.

Always lock your devices with a fingerprint sensor, a password or a PIN—one with six or more characters, if possible. Password-protect banking, wallet and other sensitive apps, too. When you get notifications to download updates for your operating system, antivirus software and other programs, do it right away because they may patch security flaws. But never click on a link or attachment in a text message or e-mail from an unfamiliar source (or from what appears to be a familiar source, if anything about the message looks fishy) because it could infect your device with malware.

No matter how tempted you are, be sure that you are only using trusted Wi-Fi networks, preferably ones that are password-protected. Although encrypted Web sites (those that begin with “https”) add protection by making your activities unreadable by hackers, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

When using Wi-Fi, avoid online banking and other sensitive transactions. If you travel a lot, consider using a personal Virtual Private Network (VPN), which provides a secure network.

Before you download a mobile app, read reviews, check its privacy policy and permissions, and visit its Web site to see whether it looks legitimate. If an app requires, say, access to your phone’s camera or GPS for no apparent reason, take a pass on it. Be especially cautious with apps from the Google Play store because anyone can place an app on that market. Apple screens apps more rigorously.

With remote tracking and wiping capability, you can find a stolen or lost device’s location and erase its contents. Users of Apple’s computers, tablets and phones can set up the option through iCloud and with the Find My iPhone app. Android owners can use Google’s Android Device Manager app.

For more on best practices in the realm of identity theft protection, please visit

by Judith