10 ways to keep your mobile phone safe at University

Mobile phones are a crucial part of everyday life for all of us, including students, providing a lifeline in terms of communication, entertainment, and also education.

But, mobile theft is a real concern for students, with a recent Uswitch survey revealing more than half (56%) of Brits have lost or had a mobile phone stolen in their lifetime. And, figures from the Metropolitan Police show that a phone gets stolen every six minutes in London

Students are always out and about, whether that’s heading to the lecture hall or library, or on a night out. This can make young adults more vulnerable to crimes like mobile theft, with those aged 16 to 24 experiencing the highest rate of burglary.

So what can students do to protect their tech? In conjunction with Uswitch.com mobiles expert, Rehan Ali, we provide our top 10 tips to keep your mobile safe at University. 

1. Be aware of your surroundings:

It’s easy to be distracted when you’re engrossed in your phone. But not being mindful of your surroundings makes you an easy target for mobile theft. Keep an eye on your belongings, and don’t leave your phone unattended, especially in crowded places like on the university campus or on a night out. While studying in the library, never leave your phone unattended even if you’re just going to the toilet or getting a book. It only takes a second for a thief to snatch it.

2. See what support your uni offers:

Check if your university has its own app. Some universities offer apps with features that can assist students in case of mobile theft. For instance, they can provide useful features and contact information. If you’re unsure who to contact, check the app or see if there’s a 24/7 chat feature.

Also, check what’s covered by the uni in terms of insurance, if anything. You’ll probably want to look into your own tech insurance to make sure that you’re protected. 

3. Research the area:

If you’re moving off-campus into a student house, make sure to do your research into the area that you’ll be living in. Look into crime rates and statistics for the local area, because areas with high concentrations of students can often be targets. While there are obviously other factors to consider when moving such as cost and distance to the uni, crime should also be one of them. 

4. Use security features:

Smartphones today typically come with a host of security features that you can use to protect your mobile’s data. You can use biometrics like fingerprints and facial recognition or set a passcode or pattern to unlock your device. When setting a password, try to make it at least 12 characters long, with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.

On Android these features will be located under “Security” or “Security & Location” and on iPhone, you’ll need to head to “Touch (or Face) ID & passcode”. 
Also, make sure to keep your phone locked when not in use. This simple measure can prevent unauthorised access to your personal and academic information.

5. Activate ‘Find My Phone’ features:

Both Android and iOS offer features that allow you to track your device if it gets lost or stolen. By logging into your account from another device, you can see your phone’s location, make it ring, or even remotely wipe its data.

On Android, you can use Google’s “Find My Device” service. This is located under “Security” in your Google settings. iOS devices have the “Find My” service, which you can find by opening the “Settings” app and tapping your name at the top to open Apple ID settings. 
If your phone is lost, you can visit Google Find My Device or iCloud Find Devices on another device to find it.

6. Be discreet:

Flashing your phone in public places can draw the attention of potential thieves. When in public, it’s best to keep your phone usage low-key. Avoid using your device in areas known for pickpocketing or theft. This is especially important on a night out, or when walking back to your accommodation.

7. Back up your data:

Regularly backing up your data ensures that your photos, videos, university notes and other important files are safe. You can back up your data using cloud services like Google Drive for Android or iCloud for iOS.

On Android, you’ll need to set up a Google account, open Google Drive and then head to “Settings”. In this menu, there should be an option called “Backup and Sync” or similar. You can also choose when the backup should happen using this menu. If the backup doesn’t start automatically, you may need to tap “Start Backup” or similar. 
On iOS, make sure you’re signed into your Apple ID, before opening iCloud within the settings app. From here, choose what you’d like to back up, before tapping “iCloud Backup” and “Back Up Now” to initiate the backup.

8. Report a theft straight away:

If you are unlucky enough to have your phone stolen while at university make sure to report it as quickly as possible. As well as the police, make sure to inform your university’s security team or housing office too. They can potentially help you to retrieve your phone but also alert other students and staff to be vigilant and take preventative measures.

9. Establish clear boundaries:

Set ground rules with your roommates or housemates regarding parties and guests. Make sure everyone understands the importance of security and respects each other’s belongings. Always lock your accommodation door when you leave, even if you’re just stepping out for a short time. As much as you may feel like you can trust your housemates, it’s always better to be safe.

10. Keep your mobile in a secure place:

When you’re not using your phone, it’s crucial to store it securely, such as in a bag or pocket with a zipper. But, when your phone is in use while you’re on the go, using a phone strap or lanyard can add an extra layer of security.

A phone strap or lanyard attached to your phone can prevent accidental drops and make it more difficult for someone to snatch the device from your hand. This can be particularly useful in crowded public spaces. Remember, these tools don’t eliminate the need for vigilance and awareness, but they can serve as an extra safeguard.

If you’re living in shared student accommodation, make sure you keep your mobile and other valuable tech in a secure place, ideally locked when you’re not around. 
By taking these steps, you can safeguard not just your devices themselves, but also your personal and sensitive data, ensuring that you can focus on your education with peace of mind.
Chris Price