Study Shows That People Love Snooping Through Lost Phones. Make Sure Yours Is Secure
Ever lost your phone before? Lots of people have, and they feel powerless against that unknown stranger that has potentially stumbled upon a goldmine of personal and private information that is potentially devastating to have fall in the wrong hands. Account information for banks, private emails from clients, and instant access to your Facebook account with an application that is always wired in.
No matter what you have on your phone, it’s a bad deal to lose it. I mean, you paid a lot of money for it (probably), and you’ll potentially pay more when somebody finds it.
Not everyone is out to cause harm though. Most people would like to give humanity the benefit of the doubt when it comes to being a good samaritan. The first thing I do when I find a lost phone is check the address book for anybody labeled “mom” or “dad”, or for a number labeled “Home” or “Work”. It’s almost impossible to return a lost phone if you can’t get access to it, but it’s also impossible to cause any personal or financial ruin to a person if you can’t get in. – How many times do people go snooping around where they shouldn’t be though? Semantec employee Kevin Haleyan and Scott Wright of Security Perspectives Inc. set out to shed some light on the subject.
In a project they named “The Symantec Smartphone Honey Stick Project,” the men set up 50 smartphones, and planted them in five cities: New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Ottawa, Canada. They “lost” the phones, which contained tracking software and dummy information, to see what would happen when somebody came and found it. The results, unfortunately, aren’t really all that good for the humanity hopefuls.
60% of the people tried to access the social media and email accounts on the phones. It could be interpreted that they, like myself, were trying to find the owner’s contact information, or at least information to contact a person who knows them (Facebook would be a great way to see the owners friends, and contact everyone, including the owner, on a mass scale with a simple status update). However, despite how good their intentions may have been with this sort of activity, their list of plausible defenses runs thin when observing their other activities. Sadly, 80% of finders attempted to access files marked, “HR Salaries” and “HR Cases.”
Almost half of phone finders tried to actually access the “owners” bank account using information found on the device.
The moral to take from all of this, is to protect your data. It’s never a good thing to lose a phone, but don’t think you aren’t entirely free from fault when somebody’s evil intentions gets the best of your financial life. Symantec offers great data protection tips that you can follow, but essentially just remember to keep a passcode on your phone, and be sure you always have a way to erase your info remotely later if you do lose it. Android phones have a lot of backup and remote wiping options available to them, such as . For iPhone owners, that means iCloud. It’s free, and it comes with your device. Get going. You might thank yourself later.
- The real tricky part to this though, is that, if a person does find your phone, and wants to return it to you… wouldn’t it be better to let them in to find contact information? If you passcode lock it, you might never see it again when an honest person does come around. Is it always better to be safe about it anyways? Let us know your policy on data protection in the comments below!