Low-tech ways to protect your mobile device

California legislators are proposing a law that would be the first in the nation to require that all smartphones and tablets sold in the state have disabling technology installed that would render the smartphone or tablet inoperable if stolen.

As we said in a recent post, the proposed “kill switch” law could catch on nationwide as thefts of mobile devices continue to be a serious and dangerous issue. If passed, the law could go into effect as early as New Year’s Day.

tablets_artUntil then — or if you live somewhere other than California — here are a few low-tech ways to safeguard your mobile device from theft:

Don’t leave your device unattended. It only takes a moment for a thief to walk off with your $600 iPad or $400 smartphone when you’re at the coffee shop counter. Don’t leave it alone in public places.

Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid using it in areas that appear unsafe. Be wary of people who act suspiciously, and keep both hands on the device when using it in public.

Install a tracking app. This comes in handy in case someone does swipe your mobile device or takes it by force. Both Android smartphones and iPhones offer free tracking apps. You can log in to another device like a laptop or tablet to locate your missing device. Get help from law enforcement; don’t go after it yourself.

Use the protection features installed on your device. Whether it is fingerprint technology, retinal displays or a password, use these features to render the phone or tablet or iPad useless to thieves.

Treat the device like your wallet. You make sure your wallet containing your cash, ATM card, personal photos and other sensitive items is secure from pickpockets. Your smartphone or tablet has sensitive data, passwords, mobile banking information, all of which can be a big payoff for thieves. Treat your mobile device like you would your wallet.