We'd all like to believe that our mobile device or computer will never get stolen, but theft is a reality. By taking the necessary precautions, you can protect yourself from such crime.

Track your device

For peace of mind, get a security application that includes a tracking mechanism, along with lockdown or wipe facilities. You may already have something pre-installed (Android Device Manager and Apple's Find My iPhone, iPad and Mac), or you could opt for other well-known apps like Lookout, AVG or Avast (Android | iOS).

But your software can't help unless you activate it, so get it up and running and find out how to use it.

Get the hardware details

Nobody likes paperwork, but police reports need a lot of detail. So, make a note of your device's serial number and model number. Also note its MAC address and computer name. In the case of mobile phones, also take down your phone's IMEI number. This info can also be useful for tracking purposes.

Store it safely

If your stuff is easy to steal, you face a risk of theft. Physically secure your desktop PC with a lockdown plate. For both PCs and laptops, use cable locks or even security webcams.

When you can't tie down smaller, more portable devices (tablet computer, USB flash drive or external hard drive), keep them out of sight when you're away from them. And if you're going on holiday without them, find creative places to hide them – like putting your tablet in a stack of towels, or your external hard drive behind a row of hard-to-reach books.

Stay alert in public

Thieves thrive in public spaces, so always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you – especially when using your device. Listening to loud music via headphones doesn't really help, so try to avoid that if you can.

Sometimes, these criminals act like innocent passers-by, striking up conversation with you about your device. They may be waiting for the chance to snatch if from you, so be cautious with strangers.

Make it difficult for criminals

In a thief's mind, easy access = easy pickings. So when you're in public, keep your device out of sight when you're not using it. You also want to avoid unsafe hiding places, such as your back pocket or handbag.

When you're using your device, keep a tight grip: hold it with both hands, spacing your fingers out or weaving them together.

Also set a unique ringtone on your phone. Criminals have been known to set off a popular default ringtone, then watch people pull their phones out to check if it's their phone ringing. They then know where people are keeping their phones, which makes it easier to pickpocket them.

Security alerts

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Visit the McAfee Threat Centre to see what new viruses have made an appearance.