Among my greatest passions in life are smartphones and personal security. I know right; I’m geeky and paranoid. I spent my spare time in the past two weeks considering ways that a person’s cell phone can be utilized in personal security. I’m not referring to the stun gun cell phones or other fake phone weapons on the market. I’m talking about the thousands of Americans walking around with Blackberrys, iPhones, Google Phones, etc who need to eliminate risk of becoming a victim of a crime or scam. Here are my 7 most applicable (not including hand to hand cell phone combat) tips:
- If you are lost or kidnapped: Modern smart phones come GPS enabled. For little to no cost you can download and install software onto your phone that will allow authorities or loved ones to log in to a 3rd party website to track your phone. Most of these services also include options for backing up data from the phone, remote wiping the memory and locking the device to prevent calls. In addition to helping you track down your lost or stolen phone it could potentially help authorities track you down if you become lost or stolen and your phone is on you or your attacker. Even if your phone is not GPS enabled authorities are able to triangulate your position based on the GPRS signal from the cell phone towers. This can often pinpoint your location within a 50 ft radius. If you are in a boat that is capsizing, put your phone in a plastic bag to keep it dry, and blow air into the bag before sealing it to be sure it floats. This will help rescuers find your location in an emergency. Mobile Security Software Suggestions: (iPhone) (Android) (BlackBerry) (WindowsMobile) (Nokia Symbian)
- In a world of viruses and hackers you may wonder where you should be keeping your most private and sensitive data. Online servers or other “password vault” services are vulnerable and your computer is just as weak to crashes as viruses and hacks. The answer is on your smart phone’s SD memory card. Cell phones are virtually impossible to hack from a remote internet connection. As long as you keep your Bluetooth turned off, or at least make your phone “Not Discoverable” you remain safe from any local hackers too. Even if you break or damage your phone, the memory card will not be damaged easily and even dropping your phone in water will not cause you to lose any data. Are you afraid you will lose your phone? No problem if you are employing one of the programs mentioned above. Just remotely backup your data and then wipe the memory device.
- ICE: EMTs and hospital staff across the nation are being trained to look in the address book of a victim’s cell phone for an emergency contact. You are advised to create a new contact in your address book under the name of ICE which is an acronym for In Case of Emergency. This empowers emergency medical technicians to contact a loved one to ask about allergies to medicines or to simply inform them of your injury or accident.
- Cell Phone users are less likely to be victims of random attack. Next time you find yourself in a quiet parking lot or in a dark alley just pull out your cell phone and call someone. If they don’t answer, pretend that they did and begin a fake conversation with their voice-mail. Potential attackers are likely to avoid people who are on the phone since the potential victim could easily describe the assailant or at least alert the 3rd party to the action. What should you talk about? Your location and your surroundings. Also indicate that you are on your way to meet with someone else. Example: “Yeah I just came out of the building on the south side. Where are you meeting me? I don’t see you yet, how far away are you?
- Ever had a phone conversation that you wish you had recorded? Use your phone. Most phones have the option to record voice notes and many smart phones have 3rd party software that will even allow you to record phone calls. Next time you are in a debate with your boss or an argument with your ex spouse… record it. Without drawing any attention turn on the recording feature on your phone and set your phone down on a surface where the microphone will be between you and the other person. Be aware that each state has different laws that govern your right to record conversations with or without the consent of all parties.
- Having a cell phone means having constant access to a digital camera. Use it. Next time you are involved in or witness to a traffic accident use your phone to take pictures of all the damage and the license plates of the cars involved. Other good times to take pictures include when you meet someone for the first time, when driving somewhere for the first time (landmarks), or when you rent a car or check into a hotel room (existing damages).
- Of course a cell phone can be used to call 911 from anywhere. Any cell phone can dial 911 even without having been active on a current plan. The international universal mobile emergency number is 112. Keep your old cell phone in the trunk of your car along with a charger to use in case of an emergency when your own phone is dead or unavailable. Purchase a “crank” cell phone charger that will power your emergency phone with a little muscle work. This would be especially useful if someone threw you in your own truck and left you there. Especially seek out an emergency phone with CDMA service. CDMA technology has much wider coverage in remote areas outside of the city. The biggest CDMA wireless carriers in the US are Verizon and Sprint.