'What becomes of the data on nearly a million stolen mobile phones?' - PC Retail

'What becomes of the data on nearly a million stolen mobile phones?'

Lee Sharrocks of Kaspersky Lab offers some advice to avoid losing more than you expect if your phone is stolen.
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Lee Sharrocks of Kaspersky Lab offers some advice to avoid losing more than you expect if your phone is stolen.

A recent story doing the rounds on Facebook spoke of a hapless phone thief, who didn’t realise the device he had stolen had been configured by the owner to synchronise all photographs taken with their personal Facebook account. So you can imagine what happened when the thief decided to take some ‘selfies’.

The identification, location and apprehension of the thief – and the recovery of the device – suddenly became a whole lot easier.

Not every smartphone owner is that lucky. According to the 2011/12 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), around two per cent of mobile phone owners had lost at least one phone in the previous 12 months.

With around 45 million mobile phone owners in the UK, that’s nearly one million mobile phones stolen a year.

Kaspersky Lab’s Consumer Security Risks survey carried out by B2B International this summer found that the victims aren’t just losing their devices – they’re losing some of their most precious and personal data. Data that more than half of smartphone owners treasure far more than the device itself can be lost: holiday photos, the video of their child’s first steps, contact details and correspondence with old friends. Not to mention the passwords for social media sites, online banking logins, e-pay details and often unlocked personal and work email accounts – the kind of information that over nine in ten of those surveyed admitted to carrying on their mobile devices.

Many people never see their stolen device again – but this shouldn’t mean all this valuable information is lost or exposed. Mobile phone owners can, and should, take responsibility for their keeping their personal information safe.

For example, there is easy to install software available that will give owners the power to remotely wipe all data from their device as soon as it goes missing, so no-one else can access or use it. Some of the more advanced smartphones on the market can even take a picture of a thief using the installed camera and send it straight on to the police. There is lots of help and advice available, and if your mobile device is connected to your work account and network you should make sure your IT department is aware of this and can help to protect you.

A million mobile phones are falling into the wrong hands every year. If you have the misfortune to discover yours is one of them, make sure you have the reassurance of knowing the culprit will be sorely disappointed at what they find.

About the author

Lee Sharrocks is consumer sales director at Kaspersky Lab.

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