I-Team probes area cell phone security problems

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What if your smart phone had a mind of its own and locked you out so that none of your passwords worked and you couldn't access your information? (WTVD)

What if your smart phone had a mind of its own and locked you out so that none of your passwords worked and you couldn't access your information?

That happened to scores of people around the Triangle who own BLU phones. They're more affordable than iPhones or many androids and operate the same way, occasionally offering customers updates meant to improve user experience or the phone's functionality.

BLU users in the Triangle recently got a notice from the company alerting them to a software update but when they installed it, their phones locked them out, requiring a password users didn't have.

"I was presented with a screen that said enter password," said Marvin Watkins, from Hillsborough. "So I typed in my password, my Google password, my pin, any any other number I could remember. Not accepted. Invalid password."

This happened to BLU users across the Triangle. "I was hopeful that BLU would put out an announcement of how to get around it or what the password it was looking for was but, unfortunately, it never came," Watkins said. "From the posts online, people waited on their support call line for hours waiting to get a notice, 'We're working on it, we'll get back to you.' Or, the best answer is, 'Factory reset your phone,' which of course, means losing all the data on the phone itself."

A factory reset can resolve some problems but comes at a cost: any data stored on the phone is lost.

"If it's on the phone itself," Watkins said, "if it's in its internal memory, it wipes it from scratch, just as if you got it from the factory on day one." That can mean credit card information, music, pictures; if it's not backed up, it can disappear forever. And that's where you can take action today to protect yourself.

"Before you apply a patch," offered Watkins, himself an IT engineer, "back up your files, check to see if anyone is having a problem with the update, and if you have the ability to choose when you do the update. Those are important things."

Popular apps and programs to back up the information on your phone include iCloud, Google's One Drive, and the cloud-based storage site Dropbox.

A related problem that some iPhone users have reported is cellular networks not working correctly after a system upgrade. Here are some potential solutions we found for that:

- Turn Cellular Data off and on. Go to Settings > Cellular> Turn off > After a few seconds, turn it on.

- Turn Airplane Mode on and off. Open Control Center > Enable Airplane Mode > Turn off after 30 seconds.

- Check Carrier update. Go to Settings > General > About to see if carrier update is available.

- Restart your iDevice. Hold down the on/wake button and Home button until the Apple logo appears.

- Reset Network Settings/All Settings. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings/Reset All Settings.

- Preform a Factory Reset. Again, this will erase all the settings and contents on your device, so remember to backup your iPhone/iPad via iTunes or iCloud. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Restore your device from backup.

- If you still cannot activate cellular data on iPhone 8/X/7/6s/6/5s/5, then you can try to set the device as new without restoring from backup.

- Downgrade to previous iOS version. If all the above methods cannot help you out, then you can consider downgrading to the previous iOS version.

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