phones, Users beware: 95% of missing phones finders ‘snoop sensitive information’, Technology Times

Users beware: 95% of missing phones finders ‘snoop sensitive information’

Users beware: 95% of missing phones finders ‘snoop sensitive information’

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A study by US technology security company Symantec has shown that 95% of people who find missing or stolen mobile phones try to access personal or sensitive information like online banking or e-mail.

While conducting a test to know what happens to stolen or lost phones, Symantec deliberately “lost” 50 Android phones in Los Angeles. These phones were loaded with identical apps, files and data, and none of them was secured by a passcode or any unlock pattern.

Symantec found that more than 95% of the people who found these missing cell phones tried to access personal or sensitive information, or services such as online banking or e-mail.

phones, Users beware: 95% of missing phones finders ‘snoop sensitive information’, Technology Times
A mobile phone user looking at the screen of his smartphone

[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]According to the report of the Symantec findings, on 72% of the lost phones, finders looked through stored photos. Attempts were made on 60% of the phones to access social media. More than 40% of finders tried to access corporate e-mail and online banking. Symantec also placed text files containing a list of passwords for services on the phone (57% of finders accessed those) and a fake list of employee salaries (accessed by 53% of finders).[/quote]According to the report of the Symantec findings, on 72% of the lost phones, finders looked through stored photos. Attempts were made on 60% of the phones to access social media. More than 40% of finders tried to access corporate e-mail and online banking. Symantec also placed text files containing a list of passwords for services on the phone (57% of finders accessed those) and a fake list of employee salaries (accessed by 53% of finders).

In Nigeria also, the rate of mobile phones theft and losses are assuming alarming figures that experts now advise mobile phone users to be very cautious of phone security and safety. Also, many have at one time or the other lost their mobile devices, either by misplacement or accident. In any case, losing mobile devices has become a common occurrence among mobile phone users.

What usually is the first reaction when someone loses his mobile phone. We think about the pain and cost of replacing the device. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When we lose our phones, we don’t realise that our photos, emails, text messages, our contact numbers and even our apps can be an open door for thieves into our personal information, privacy and other sensitive information like financial accounts.

This shows how important it has become to secure your data stored in your mobile devices. You never can tell who may find it, and the extent to which the person might go using the information there in.

It is on this premise that the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), through its New Media and Information Security Department, also provided a guideline for mobile phone users to help them protect the data contained the devices.

phones, Users beware: 95% of missing phones finders ‘snoop sensitive information’, Technology Times
A mobile phone user seen at the 2016 Social Media Week Lagos

[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]Obtain your apps only from trusted sources such as the Apple iTunes Store, Windows Phone App store, Blackberry World, Google Play, or the Amazon App Store for Android or from your manufactures App Store. This helps you avoid malware which is often distributed via illicit channels.[/quote]According to the unit of the Nigerian telecoms regulatory agency, the underlisted guidelines are easy to implement and can protect users’ privacy and data in the event that the device is compromised, lost or stolen:

  • Users should label their devices by name and a phone number where they can be reached to make it easy to return if it is lost, even if the battery is dead.
  • Configure a pass code to gain access to and use the device. This helps prevent unauthorised individuals from gaining access to your data.
  • Set an idle timeout that will automatically lock the phone when not in use. This also helps prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to your data.
  • Keep all software up to date, including the operating system and installed “Apps.” This helps protect the device from attack and compromise.
  • Do not “jailbreak” or “root” your device. “Jail-breaking” and “rooting” removes the manufacturer’s protection against malware.
  • Obtain your apps only from trusted sources such as the Apple iTunes Store, Windows Phone App store, Blackberry World, Google Play, or the Amazon App Store for Android or from your manufactures App Store. This helps you avoid malware which is often distributed via illicit channels.
  • Enrol your device in a managed environment. This helps you configure and maintain your security and privacy settings.
  • If using an iPhone or Apple device users should enrol their devices in Find My iPhone or an equivalent service for other devices. This will help locate your device should it be lost or stolen.
  • If your device supports it, ensure that it encrypts its storage with hardware encryption. In conjunction with a management service or “Find My iPhone,” this can allow data to be removed quickly in the event that the device is lost or stolen.

Because your private and personal data is more valuable than the hardware and software device, it becomes paramount that you do your best to secure it.

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Success Kafoi Journalist at Technology Times Media. Mobile: 08077671673 email: success.kafoi@technologytimes.ng