Losing an iPad: Simple Things to Protect Identity and Theft on Your Mobile Devices

Last night I had one of those incredibly horrifying moments that I hope you never experience.

Just as I’m getting ready to go to bed at 11 PM in my hotel room I suddenly realize my iPad was missing. Losing an iPad is upsetting – knowing the damage someone could do if they accessed online accounts using my iPad was terrifying.

Fortunately I knew I had some protection because I password protect my devices and had set up Find My iPad/Phone.  Which can’t be said for many of the educators I noticed using mobile devices at ISTE.  But had I done enough?

What have I done!?
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Miguel Angel via Compfight

Here’s what I learned!  And I’m hoping my horrifying moment encourages you to improve the security on your devices.

Enable Find My iPad

Fortunately I had Find My iPad/iPhone enabled on all my devices.  It is one of the first things you should do when you set up a new iOS device.

You’ll find detailed step by step instructions here.

Find my iPad

Enable Password Lock

It’s pointless to use Find My iPad without password lock.  Anyone finding your device before you realise it is missing is able to automatically access all your logged in apps and accounts as well as go to Settings > iCloud and turn off Find My iPad.

My device had been lost for 8 hours before I realised it was missing.  They could have done considerable damage if they had been dishonest and able to use the device.

Fortunately I had password lock set up on my iPad.

Entering a password whenever you use your device may seem inconvenient, but you’ll appreciate having taken the precaution if you ever lose your device.

Here’s how to set up passcodes:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Password Lock.
  2. Turn Passcodes On.
  3. Create a four digit PIN and confirm it.

You can read more about passcodes here.

Password Lock

Enable Restrictions

Restrictions prevent changes being made to accounts or locations.  It works similar to password locking your device except you need to use the correct password to make a change to accounst or locations.

If you don’t take this step, any one that finds your device before the auto-lock engages can simply turn off Find My iPad/iPhone just as fast as you activated it. When Don’t Allow Changes is enabled for locations, the Find My iPad section of Settings > iCloud is greyed out and it can’t be disabled unless you change restrictions for locations to Allow Changes using your passcode.

The idea is you use a different password from your password lock and it adds another barrier to making the change and it might not be something that someone who finds the device will know to look for.

I hadn’t set up restrictions so if someone had been able to work out my password they would have been able to disable Find My iPad.

Here’s how you set up restrictions:

1.  Go to Settings > General > Restrictions.

Go to restrictions

2.  Enable Restrictions.

3.  Create a four digit PIN and confirm it.

4.  Tap on Location Services (under privacy).

5.  Select Don’t Allow Changes.

6.  Tap on Accounts.

7.  Select Don’t Allow Changes.

Don't allow changes

Using Find My Phone

Once you’ve enabled Find My iPhone you can log into iCloud on your computer and use it to locate or erase a lost device.

This is as simple as:

1.  Log into iCloud on your computer.

2.  Click on Find My iPhone.

3.  Click on Devices, if you have more than one device, and then click on the name of the device you are trying to locate.

4.  Now you have the option to Play a sound, enable Lost Mode or Erase the device.

Find my iphone

You can read more about each option here.

The downside of Find My iPhone is your device must be connected to the Internet for it to work.  So in my situation where I’m travelling with an iPad that uses WiFi connections iCloud won’t connect to device until the person who finds it manages to connect to the Internet.  However, I still enabled lost mode so if someone did manage to work out my password, and connect to the Internet, it would immediately contact me.

Setting up Find My Phone on Android Devices

I also have an android tablet I’m travelling with.  Setting up Find my Tablet/Phone isn’t as obvious as on iOS devices.

The best option is to first check if your android includes Find My Phone.  I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and all Samsung devices have Find my Mobile (Settings > Security > Find My Mobile).

There are also a range of apps you can download for androids that work similar to Find My Phone.

What do you think?

This story did have a happy ending!  I was fairly confident that is fell out of my bag in the hotel lobby.  I went down to the hotel lobby to check and when they couldn’t find it I left my contact details.

The good news is someone had handed it into the hotel reception and the hotel manager had locked it in his office overnight.  So they contacted me once he arrived to let me know they had found it.

I’m thinking:

  1. I should also add a label on the back of my devices with my email address.
  2. What type of security I need to set up on my laptop.

Thoughts?  What other advice do you have? Let us know in the comments below and we will be sure to add it to the post!


Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

4 Responses

  1. Hindie Becker Dershowitz says:

    When I travel, my screen on my lock screen has my phone number for someone to contact me if found.

  2. Janet | expateducator.com says:

    I had the same thing happen to me this week. “Find My iPad” was brilliant. First, it asked me to password protect my computers. Then, it made a beeping sound that alerted those around the iPad.

    I was lucky enough to have a supermarket store employee find my bag and lock it up. She didn’t know that the bag had an iPad until I had the beeping sound activate. Then, she found the iPad and saw the message on the iPad screen that the iPad was lost. It displayed my phone number for the employee to call.

    I was able to retrieve the bag and iPad the next day. I also left a thank-you card with some reward cash. The card said, “Thanks for your honesty. You make the world a better place.”

  3. Lynne says:

    Your tips are spot on. On Mac laptops you can enable a passcode in the Privacy and Security settings and Find my Mac in the iCloud settings.
    I left my iPhone at the registration table in the back of one of the ballrooms at ISTE13. One of the workers found it and before the passcode lock kicked in was able to get my name and announce it to the crowd. We’d walked outside since the seats were all taken) One of my coworkers claimed it for me and called my husband and I had it back in 5 minutes. :)

  4. Anne Mirtschin says:

    The last formal session that I attended before the final keynote with Adam Bellow at iste13 was a fascinating one – “From Angry Birds to Minecraft – what games teach us about learning!” I took notes using evernote on my iPad – as I had done for most other sessions. As I left the room, I placed my iPad on the seat next door and packed things into my backpack. 20 mins later, I went to get the iPad out of my backpack and to my sheer dismay, found it was missing. Back to the session room I went but there was no sign of anything. I quickly walked to the ISTE help desk, stated my sad case and was promptly asked if I was Anne. The lady then went out into the back and brought back my iPad.
    The finder of my iPad must have taken it there immediately but had managed to use my mail icon to actually send me an email to say the iPad was found and had been taken to the ISTE help kiosk. I have now followed your instructions, Sue but I hope that I never have to pursue the “Find my iPad” option.

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