It is a moment that we all dread, and is sure to happen to each of us at some point, that being when you realize that your smartphone has either been stolen or you’ve lost it somewhere.
That rush of panic is because these smartphones have become an integral part of our lives and much of our personal information lives on those phones. So when it is stolen or lost everything about us suddenly has the potential to be in someone else’s possession and all that personal information now belongs to them to do with as they wish, or at least until you can remotely wipe it.
However do we really know what happens with that phone you have lost?
This was the question that the folks at Symantec decided to try and find out and is the reason behind their Smartphone Honey Stick Project. Teaming up with Scott Wright from Security Perspectives Inc they seeded 50 smartphones with all kinds of data and apps, and then they “lost” them.
The phones were dropped in five different cities: New York City, Washington D.D., Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Ottawa Canada. Leaving the phones in very high traffic areas they sat back and waited to see what would happen and needless to say the results were not the most encouraging.
It turns out that even the few people who tried to return the phones also tried to access the data on those phones. In fact 96 percent of the lost smartphones had some sort of attempt made to access the data on them.
Here’s a few more things that they found out:
- 6 out of 10 finders attempted to view social media information and emails
- 8 out of 10 finders tried to access corporate information including files that were clearly marked “HR Salaries”
- finders also tried to use apps that were clearly marked “Remote Admin”
- nearly 50% of finders tried to access any banking information on the phones
This is definitely not reassuring at all and as they point out in the post securing your phone should be a primary purpose rather than an afterthought.