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By The SafeStack Team • October 5, 2020

Lessons learned in device security

Whether it’s a phone, tablet, or laptop, keeping our devices safe and secure is one of those things we often don’t think about until it’s too late. 

With so many people now working on portable devices away from traditional office environments, it’s a good time to think about device security for you and your team. 

We’ve just released a new module on this topic in SafeStack Academy's Security Awareness training for small businesses, and it’s full of practical guidelines and tips to make staying safe easier.

Conveniently, SafeStack team member Rachel has the perfect story about how putting some simple safeguards in place can save you a big headache if your device goes missing! 

My iPad went to Vancouver and didn't even send me a postcard

My iPad is well-travelled. It's been on many family trips with us and it’s always a useful friend — ready with an iBook or a movie to keep me entertained. It lets me check my emails and social media and take care of any banking that needs doing while we're away.

iPad waving out of plane window

It was on the return journey of our last family trip to the United States that things went off-script. This was before COVID-19, in a time when gigantic metal aircraft zoomed around the skies transporting large groups of people from one continent to another, but I digress.

At some point during the flight, I shoved my iPad into the seat pocket in front of me. You know what I’m going to say next — in the mad scramble to disembark in Sydney and make our connection to Melbourne, I left it behind.  

As I sank into my seat on the Melbourne-bound plane — happy to be at the start of our final flight home — it hit me! That sinking, stomach-wrenching, heart-stopping feeling you get when you realise you've lost a good friend — your device!  

On that flight home, I went through all five stages of grief.  

  • Denial: "It must be here somewhere. I’ll search my hand luggage one more time."
  • Anger: "How could I be so stupid?" *insert curse words of your choice*.
  • Bargaining: "If I get it back, I pinky-promise that I'll never go off at the kids again when they lose random pieces of school uniform."
  • Depression: Staring glumly out the plane window. Nothing to read, watch, or play. *Sigh.*
  • Acceptance: "I have to face it. Someone else now has a shiny new iPad that once belonged to me."

Once we were home and unpacked, I regrouped, and it dawned on me that I’d set up the Find My feature on all my devices.

I use a strong passcode so I wasn't worried about anyone accessing what was on my iPad (Find My also lets you remotely lock your device and erase it if you need to) — but I wanted my device back.

I opened the Find My app on my phone, and there it was — my adventurous iPad had made it to Sydney! Would you believe an icon on the map showed me its exact location at the airport? What I now know is it had stayed tucked away in the seat pocket and made the return journey to Sydney with the Qantas cabin crew.

As soon as I woke up the next morning, I checked on my iPad and was shocked to see it was now in Canada! The icon showed me it was sitting somewhere on the tarmac at International Arrivals at Vancouver International Airport.

By the time I checked again, someone had finally discovered my iPad's hiding place and it had been moved to an industrial area near the airport. Perhaps another passenger or cleaning crew had handed it in, and now it was being held hostage in a freight area.

A glimmer of hope that I may be able to get it back began to shine.

Long story short, the incredible battery life of my iPad allowed me many days of staring longingly at a Canadian cargo terminal on a map. At the same time, I navigated the complexities of the Qantas Lost Baggage claims call centre.  

It was a rather complicated process to explain to the call centre how to locate the stow-away and for them to authenticate me as its rightful owner. There was no existing process in place for returning a lost device under these circumstances, so I guess my iPad and I are trailblazers.

It took some wrangling and special arrangements so a cabin crew member could bring the iPad onto another flight bound for Australia, but we got there. My rogue iPad was finally on its way back to me. 

Once it arrived back in Sydney, the kind folks at Qantas posted it to me.  

It was a joyous moment — having my iPad back safe and secure after its solo trip around the world. If only it could tell us more about its adventures as a stow-away and its time in Vancouver.

Keeping your devices secure

While my story is more dramatic than most, losing devices pretty common. The good news is there are simple things you can do to make the experience less stressful.

  • Protect access to your device and the data on it by using a strong passcode. 
  • For laptops, make sure that data encryption is enabled. 
  • Use the Find My feature. If it all completely turns to custard, you can remotely erase your device.

Having these protections in place makes a world of difference to how you handle and recover from a bad situation — and believe me, you’ll be grateful to past you for setting all this up.

If you want to know more about how to keep your devices safe and secure, our Keeping Your Devices Secure module is jam-packed with practical advice and guidelines you can use right away.

SafeStack red panda Riley with laptop, tablet, and phone

What's in the module?

We've designed this module to get learners thinking about how and where they download apps from, permission settings, and some of the most common device security risks.  

Among other things, Keeping Your Devices Secure covers:

  • Three types of mobile device security threats and how to counter them;   
  • Practical guidelines for securing your devices; and
  • An App Safety Checklist

All of our Security Awareness modules are bite-sized nuggets of on-topic content, outstanding graphics, and interactive activities and quizzes to make your learning experience a fun one.

You'll also get a printable summary of the module for easy reference whenever you need it.

Who is this module for?

So many people are working on portable devices away from traditional office settings at the moment. Often these devices are unsecured, and many people don't know how to protect themselves against cyber attacks.

If you use a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop, and want to to know more about keeping them safe and secure, this module is for you.

Try it yourself

Sign up for our Security Awareness training today, or take it for a spin with a free 14-day trial.

We love to hear from you

We hope this module gets you and your team thinking about device security. We'd love to hear your feedback. Drop us a line on support@safestack.io  and let us know what you think.