I have recently seen stories from around the globe about people being mugged for their phones. The violence involved is concerning enough for most people, not to mention the cost of replacing the phone, but what is just as worrying is the loss of private and potentially damaging information.
In the cases described in these articles, the phones were all in use. With people walking down the street engaged in conversation, on public transport playing games, or answering emails, they’ve become a perfect target for opportunistic criminals. When your attention is diverted, you become a sitting duck.
A blog in CIO magazine online reported that a spate of San Francisco phone robberies were almost all done when the phone was in use. Now, these victims have had their lives open to attack. Their contacts, address and phone number, calendar, emails, social network, photos, and SMS messages are all in the hands of criminals.
More than Just the Phone is Stolen
With smartphone theft, it is not just that a victim has lost the phone, but the thief knows where they live and when they will be at home (or not). The criminal has access to their victim’s Facebook, Twitter, and email. This means reputations and friendships could be destroyed. And with mobile banking and payment capability, finances can be quickly erased.
Just this month I read of a similar case in the UK where a young man was talking on his Blackberry phone when it was snatched from his grasp. After the scuffle, the man went to the local police station to report the theft. The twist here is that the person on the other end of the phone at the time was Prince Harry, the British Royal.
Fearing for his friend, the Prince jumped in his car with his bodyguard and raced to the scene. So a big concern was that the thief now had the mobile phone number, and possibly personal emails, photos, and SMS messages of the Prince, a childhood friend of the victim.
You Need a Plan In Case Your Phone is Lost
So what should you do when your phone is lost or stolen and you don’t all have a Prince in a shining Audi to come to your rescue? Everyone with a smartphone needs to consider a security plan for their device. You should start by asking yourself these questions: What would I do if I lost my phone? What information is stored on it and how is it protected? Is there stuff on there that I wouldn’t want anyone else to see?
For iPhone users, you should all be registered on iCloud to access the remote iLostmyiPhone technology. It helps you find, lock, and wipe a lost device. For Android users, the same service is available from third party software developers. Check out Trend Micro Mobile Security Personal Edition on the Android Market. If you have a Nokia Symbian phone you can try Mobile Security Lite from Trend Micro in the OVI store.
So even if you don’t have a Prince to help you, you can avoid being royally s@#&*ed by enlisting one of the above services…And make sure you don’t have anything on your phone you wouldn’t want your mum to see.
Stay safe, keep an eye out, and don’t text ‘n’ walk.
I work for Trend Micro and all opinions expressed here are my own.
Greg Boyle is Senior Global Product Marketing Manager, Consumer Mobility at Trend Micro.