While checking my e-mail this evening, I came across an article on my homepage that I found quite intriguing. It was a small blurb about the statistics of a study done that tested what people do with lost smart phones that they find in public places. According to the article, not only do most people not attempt to return phones they find, but they also go through them looking for ultra personal data that they contain! According to the study done, only 50% of people who find lost phones attempted to find the rightful owners of the phones they found. 96% of people went through the data on the devices they found. Even though some of these people were probably legitimately just trying to find out who the owner of the device may be, in my opinion this is a startling percentage.
After I read this eye-opening piece, I began to think about all of the personal information I have on my phone. I have the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of friends, family members, co-workers, and acquaintances, banking information, schedules, notes, and pictures, among other very personal information that I would not necessarily feel comfortable with a complete stranger having access to. Not only would losing my phone cause a great nuisance, but it would put pretty much my entire cyber-identity at risk of fraud. Granted, access to a couple hundred dollars and my Twitter feed is not exactly a hot commodity for hackers. At twenty, I do not have much that a thief would be interested in; however, someone who is established, with a serious career, a hefty amount of money in the bank, investment in stocks, and an established credit would have something to worry about if their smart phone was lost or stolen. When people steal phones, they are potentially getting much more than just a piece of hardware. As technology advances, more and more people are using easily transportable devices other than smart phones such as tablets and web books. People store personal information on these devices as well, sometimes even more, for they seem to be slowly becoming the technological tools of choice in the home. Because people are becoming more and more comfortable using these devices everywhere and anywhere, there is more potential for them to be lost, stolen, etc. I do not know whether or not people realize how much information they are toting around with them at any given time. And, judging by the way people leave their electronic devices strewn about, it os quite clear that they either do not realize or are just not concerned.
As the article says, passwords are crucial. Having your phones password protected would stop at least amateur thiefs from gaining access to your information. I am sure that more sophisticated masterminds have ways of hacking, but it cannot hurt to have a code protecting your data. Also according to the article, people are less likely to try and access phones without passwords. This is probably because the people just coming across phones are not experienced hackers out to steal information, money, identities, etc. Regardless, after realizing how common information theft occurs, I would never not have anything not protected by a password of some sort. It seems silly not to take probably the easiest precaution possible.
In lieu of reading the above article, I wanted to know which devices are the most secure. According to MSNBC, Blackberries have the most effective encryption, followed closely by Apple products. Android phones came in third. These are interesting findings and bring up even more questions regarding this safety matter. As an ardent Apple consumer, I am most interested in how safe these particular products are. Is a four-number passcode safe enough? At what point should a person set the security setting to “delete if passcode is denied ten times” setting? Is the information stored, transfered, and shared through the Apple “Cloud” network safe? Sure this program backs up your information so it is available elsewhere if your phone is lost or stolen; however, can this network be accessed by a talented hacker? How safe is our personal information in the world of constant cyber connection that we live in? Am I just being paranoid, or are my questions valid?