Smartphone Theft and Location Tracking in the Digital Age

The digital age has values it offers to people who are both digital savvy and digital naive. One such of such benefits is the capacity to curb the rate of smartphone theft. Although, no credible statistics have shown if smartphone theft has reduced or not in the digital age. However, to some extent people have the clue that a smartphone could easily be tracked when stolen. Arguably, this instantly kills the intent to steal.

In the digital age everything is almost open sourced. That is why data is no longer safe. Security and confidentiality of data is inadequate. So, you can’t steal a smart device and go free. You go free only if the person decided to let it go. You can’t mess up with a digital savvy person in such situation. This is because he/she understands the practical steps towards finding a lost smartphone.

Mind you, the whole idea is not to recover the device from the culprit. It is to restrict him/her from accessing confidential files in your device. Or better still to completely destroy the smartphone using the device serial number.

Interestingly, Google Play Store has anti-theft Apps and one of them is the Google’s Find My Device. This is Google’s official App for tracking any stolen Android device. Here are some the steps you need to take:

  • Your device is connected with your Google account.
  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • Allowed Find My Device to locate your device (turned on by default). This can changed in the Google Settings app.
  • Allowed Find My Device to lock your device and erase its data (turned off by default).

Using a Search Phrase

By simply typing on Google Search Engine (where is my phone) you could get your device tracked. If your device is registered, Google displays a little map above the search results in which it will try to find your phone. Once found, you can let it ring by clicking on “Ring”. This is incredible.

Location Tracking

Are you aware that Google knows your current location? Surprisingly, Google still knows your location even when your location services is turned off. This is seemingly the height of it all.

For instance, how does Uber or Taxify drivers know the exact location of a passenger? The location service or GPS is usually turned on driven by a data connection. That is how the drivers know the exact location of their passengers for pick up. The mystery here is that Google knows where you are even when you don’t have data or when none of those things is turned on.

How Does Google Track your Data Without being Turned on?

According to Quartz, the operating system automatically tracks the location of the cell towers it is connecting to and phones the information home to Google automatically.

As Quartz reports:

Let me breakdown: “Android devices has a network synchronization system that requires mobile network codes and mobile country codes. These are called “Cell ID” codes and are considered an “additional signal to further improve the speed and performance of message delivery.

“Even devices that had been reset to factory default settings and apps, with location services disabled, were observed by Quartz sending nearby cell-tower addresses to Google.

Devices with a cellular data or WiFi connection appear to send the data to Google each time they come within range of a new cell tower. When Android devices are connected to a WiFi network, they will send the tower addresses to Google even if they don’t have SIM cards installed.”