Oh no. You slap your pockets in a sudden panic, but you only confirm what you suddenly feared: you’ve lost your mobile device, the one with all of your business data on it. You haven’t an idea where you might have left it - all you know is that it’s just... gone.
This situation is far too familiar, and with the rising use of personal devices for work purposes, it has led to too many businesses becoming vulnerable to threats. Fortunately, there are steps to help mitigate the damage if your devices are ever absconded with.
1. Suspend any Financial Permissions to the Device
One of the biggest benefits of mobile and online banking and finance management is the security that financial institutions enforce before allowing access. However, many of the security measures are easily circumvented by a user and their device’s password management. If a device is stolen, there’s a good chance that the thief will still be allowed to access many online accounts and make purchases on your (or your company’s) dime if password management is activated.
If your online accounts show signs of unauthorized use, reach out to the bank or lender immediately and explain the situation. They should have a fraud department whose job it is to handle exactly this kind of circumstance, and they will most likely refund the lost money. You should still babysit your finances, however, as the bank might not initially pay attention to smaller transactions.
2. Wipe ALL Passwords
Yes, ALL passwords. Whether it was a mobile device or a laptop that was stolen from you, you need to access all accounts literally as soon as humanly possible and change every single password you have. On a second device, log into your browser and access any password manager you may be using, including the browser’s native capabilities or a utility like LastPass. This is unfortunate, but necessary: you need to systematically go through and delete every password from the password manager, uninstalling it. You also need to go to every site you have an account with and change your credentials to it. While this in undeniably a pain to deal with, it is less of a pain than a stolen account.
3. Make Sure Browser Sync is Deactivated
If you happen to use a browser like Chrome or Firefox across multiple devices, you need to disable it before you start changing your passwords and credentials. Otherwise, any of your changes will automatically transfer over to the stolen device, rendering any of your efforts to block access thus far useless. So, once you’ve wiped the password for each account you have, turn off syncing. In Chrome, you can do this by accessing Settings > Advanced sync settings > Choose what to sync. Deselect everything and set a new password to encrypt your synced data. Then you are safe to start the password resetting process.
When it comes to finding a device that has been stolen, there are a few ways to make it easier to recover afterwards.
Note Your Serial Numbers
One of the most difficult parts of recovering a stolen laptop (or other device) that the police have recovered is proving that it belongs to you. However, if you keep a record of all of your devices and their serial numbers, you will be prepared to stake a claim to your devices once they are recovered.
To find your device’s identifying information, access Control Panel > System and Security > See the name of this computer. From there, you can take a screenshot that you can keep for your records.
You can also take pictures of the device itself, recording any identifying features and the like that could help to confirm that, should the computer be stolen and recovered, it belongs to you.
Keep Your Data Backup Updated
Unfortunately, many thieves know that it just makes more sense to wipe a stolen computer as quickly as possible - it makes it that much harder to find, after all. Plus, many thieves will use a secondhand shop as an unwitting fence to get rid of the hot device. These stores also will wipe the device before selling it. While this is good for your data security, it isn’t great for your data continuity… unless you’ve taken precautions and have maintained a data backup. Having a data backup means that, even if the thief wipes your valuable data, you haven’t lost the most valuable part of the device.
If your business finds itself in one of these positions, and you need assistance with any of these steps, we can help. Reach out to MERIT Solutions today at (757) 420-5150.