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The best apps to keep your smartphone safe from thieves

A dark-haired woman became an internet celebrity this week after an iPhone app, iGotYa, took a picture of her as she tried to unlock a stolen phone.

A woman became an internet celebrity this week after an iPhone app, iGotYa, took a picture of her as she tried to unlock a stolen phone.

The app covertly took an image of the woman outside a Brighton nightclub - her name is unknown, and it's not clear whether she stole the phone or knew if it was stolen - and sent it to its rightful owner.

The app, iGotYa, isn't available through Apple's official store - but there are a lot of free and paid-for security apps that can offer peace of mind when a device is lost.

Some take photos, others can track thieves across town using GPS - and even find the phone once a thief has changed the SIM card. Below are a few of the best.

IGotYa
Free
iOS

The app, which takes a picture of people who open the handset's 'lock screen' is only available for 'jailbroken' iPhones - it can't be purchased from Apple's own iTunes Stores. Jailbreaking iPhones invalidates the warranty, and is in violation of Apple's user agreement.


                                     [Related: Watch 'Cybergeddon' here]

Thief Face Trap Mini
Free
Android

This free Android app takes a picture of would-be thieves and covertly sends it to the owner - although it requires a bit of fiddling to turn off notifications that might warn the thief - and can also send an SMS with its current location. The SMS function can be activated even if the phone's SIM card is changed.

Find My iPhone
Free
iOS


Apple's free security app doesn't take pictures of thieves, but can set off alarms, display warning messages on screen and remotely wipe devices. You can remotely switch a lost device into Lost Mode - which displays a contact number on screen, locks the handset with a PIN, and sends you a record of where it's been.

GadgetTrak
From £2.49
iOS, PC, Mac


The GadgetTrak app sends its owner updates with its location - and can be instructed to take photos of thieves using an iPhone or laptop's camera. The locator will work via wi-fi and phone network if GPS is turned off.



                                     [Related: Watch 'Cybergeddon' here]



Kaspersky Mobile Security Lite
Free
Android


Kaspersky's security suite allows users to find their phone via GPS once it's stolen, then wipe its email, text and Calendar data remotely or block it from being used. The paid-for version of Kaspersky's app will even work if the thief has changed the SIM card.

Norton Anti-Theft
Free (requires subscription)
iOS, Android, PC


Norton's security suite - for Android and iPhone - includes a 'sneak peek' feature that lets users covertly take pictures of someone who has stolen their phone or tablet. Gadgets will also send their owners their current location, along with a list of recent locations.

Gotcha Pro Alarm System
Free
iOS

A motion sensor sets off a deafening 30-second alarm if your iPhone is moved unexpectedly, even if it is in Sleep mode or locked - it can only be silenced by entering a PIN. Other such alarms will only work if the phone is 'On'. You can set a delay for the alarm, to save your own ears. If that isn't enough to put off thieves, the phone will also message you with a Google Maps link showing its location if it is stolen.