Smartphones are capable of so much. As such, losing our phones has become a terrifying prospect. During the days of dumb phones, the thought of having to replace all of your numbers was pretty daunting. Now that these pocket computers have access to our email, all of our social networks, possibly our credit card details or PayPal accounts if we're into shopping online while on the go? Well, we'd gladly trade all of the numbers on our contacts list for the safe return of that information.
So, if you lose your phone, just how likely are you to get it back? According to recent research from Symantec, you're looking at 50/50 odds. Symantec recently teamed up with Scott Wright of Security Perspectives to launch the Symantec Smartphone Honey Stick Project. The company took 50 smartphones and loaded them with simulated corporate and personal data. They also included remote monitoring capabilities so they could see what happened to the phones. Then they went out and intentionally lost all fifty handsets.
"We dropped the 50 smartphones in five different cities: New York City; Washington D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Ottawa, Canada," said Symantec's Kevin Haley. "They were left in high traffic public places such as elevators, malls, food courts, and public transit stops. Then we waited to see what would happen."
According to Symantec, only 50 percent of the people that found phones made any attempt to return the handset to its rightful owner. Now, if you're like us and possess a particularly optimistic and sunny disposition about life, the world, and everything, you're probably thinking, "Fifty percent! I like those odds!" Well, apparently we shouldn't be so positive about these good-willed finders. Though half of the finders tried to return the phones, the majority took a sneaky-peeky at the data on the device before doing so. Symantic says six out of 10 finders attempted to view social media information and email while eight out of 10 tried to access corporate information, including files that were obviously containing sensitive data (think "HR Salaries," and the like). The worst part? One out of every two finders tried to run an app labeled "Remote Admin" and half tried to access the bank account of the owner. Yeesh!
Of course, the smart thing to do would be password protect your phone. The majority of smartphones are capable of this feature (whether it's a number PIN, a design you have to draw, or even your face). This would prevent people from getting a look at your Facebook, email, photos and worse before they decide if they're even going to bother trying to return your phone. It also helps to have the ability to remote-wipe your phone if you lose it and are starting to feel like it's probably gone for good.