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Tech traveller: Smartphone disaster recovery

Having insurance for your smartphone can save losing it abroad from becoming a financial disaster. But making sure your personal information doesn't fall into the hands of thieves is equally important — here are the apps to help prevent such a data crisis

By Kate Russell
Published 2 Apr 2019, 12:35 BST, Updated 15 Jul 2021, 13:13 BST
A smartphone

Losing a smartphone can lead to a privacy crisis

Photograph by Getty Images

Motion Alarm (iOS) and Anti-Theft Alarm (Android) are both free apps that will make your smartphone scream if anyone tries to lift it while you're not looking. Another neat way to use these apps is to leave them activated on your smartphone in your bag, or propped up against the inside of your hotel room door to alert you to intruders.

Snatch-and-run crimes are on the increase, so protect yourself when using your phone in public by buying a case with a wrist strap or lanyard. There are loads available, so just Google your phone model to find a selection. If the worst does happen, modern handsets have a native feature that lets you track your phone, as long as it's powered on. On iPhone it's 'Find my iPhone' on, and on Android you need to go to your device manager at Once there you can register your device and set up remote lock and erase options to nuke the data from your phone as a last resort.

If you want to go a step further, Prey Anti Theft — free on iOS and Android — reports on phone activities and will take photos to provide evidence of a theft to the authorities. I'd also recommend installing Lookout for iOS and Android, which will give you an extra layer of protection from malware and viruses. It also has simple backup and reinstall options to make the pain of setting up a new phone a lot easier to bear.


Published in the November 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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