I don’t know about you, but I spend an inordinate amount of my time keeping track of both my iPad and iPhone. With most of the U.S. carriers using iPads for the pilot electronic flight bag, (EFB) the chances of one of us having our company iPad lost or stolen is very high. (In this article, the terms iPad and EFB are synonymous for company-issued devices.) Procedures for lost/stolen company EFB’s vary slightly from company to company, so I’m going to cover a few common-sense suggestions for you to follow if you carry a company iPad and suddenly discover that it is missing.
First, if you suspect your EFB has been lost, stolen or simply misplaced, it’s important that you take action right away. Do you remember the little lock symbol from your last ground school or computer learning? It’s usually accompanied by a statement similar to this:
“This device contains Sensitive Security Information that is controlled under 49 CFR. Unauthorized release may result in civil penalty or other action.”
The FAA, TSA, and your airline are serious about the information that is stored on your EFB, and you should take immediate steps to ensure that information isn’t distributed to those who do not have a “need to know.” Immediately, call your IT department and/or chief pilot. Unfortunately, they probably have an abundance of information on this topic because they deal with it every day. If you feel the iPad was stolen, obtain a police report. If you lost the iPad, contact airport lost-and-found. Another idea is to call the airline manager for that airport and kindly ask that he/she keep an eye open for your iPad. (One tip: After having lost my iPad, I learned how important it is that the iPad be easily identified. I applied a big yellow LOGBOOK sticker on mine.) In most cases, after contacting your chief pilot and/or IT department, company information will be wiped from the device, but that’s not the end of the story.
Many of us, unless prohibited by the airline, keep personal applications and data on our company owned iPad. If you have your own data on the EFB, there are several steps you can take to make sure your data does not fall into malicious hands. If you own an iPhone, or if you have another colleague’s iPad available, try the Find My iPhone app. You’ll need your Apple ID and password, but once the application launches, you should be able to locate your EFB (if it is online). If you just left it in the crew room or at Starbucks, you should be able to retrieve it quickly and easily. On the other hand, if you see your iPad icon moving quickly down the interstate or being dropped at a mall, more drastic actions will be needed to protect your data.
Apple’s “Find My iPhone” comes with three options when you lose your iPad. Of note, it works equally well if you use an iPhone.
Play Sound: If you think you’ve lost your EFB, give it a shot and click on the Play Sound button. This will cause your iPad to issue a ringing gong-like sound. Hopefully, if it’s fallen behind your first-class seat during a deadhead, someone will hear it and rescue your device. Long shot? Yes, but worth a try. (Oh, and the first-class seat reference was humor.)
Lost Mode: Entering Lost Mode does four things:
- Locks your device with a passcode so no one can access your data. (Most airlines require that it always be protected with a code.)
- A message will be displayed on your device’s screen providing contact information to whomever may have it.
- The EFB will not show alerts or play notification sounds for calls, messages, etc.
- Most importantly, your Apple Pay cards will be suspended.
Erase iPhone: When all else fails, you’re ready for the nuclear option. Using Erase iPad/iPhone will erase all your data the next time the EFB is opened and connects to either Wi-Fi or a cellular network. The iPad is returned to factory default. If you do get your iPad returned it is simple to restore it from your Cloud backup. Having backup turned on will ensure you recover your data.
In my case, my iPad was turned into IAD lost-and-found, and I was able to retrieve it. By that time, my company had erased all company material, and I had used the erase option in Find My iPhone. The good news is that it only took a couple of hours to restore everything to working order. My next action was to order a bright red cover to make it easy to spot my EFB. ACN