There is only a 55 % chance of having a smartphone returned if it is lost, and if it is returned, is more than likely that the finder will go thru the contents, and explore what some may consider as personal information. This is according to recent survey conducted by Symantec, the security software company, with Headquarters California.
In an unscientific survey, 60 smartphones were dropped on the streets of Canada’s larger cities of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver Ottawa, Halifax and Calgary, and Symantec then examined how and if the smartphones were returned. The phones were rigged with icons that represented fake apps to trick the finders into activating them and tracking software recorded the clicks. Symantec wanted to find out how persistent the people who found the phones were, in exploring the devices,and the answers are disappointing and surprising.
StefanoTiranardi, Symantec Canada Information Protection Specialist expresses disappointment with the results, that were much higher than expected, and the sad truth that if a phone is lost, there is very little hope that it will returned without private information being accessed or even compromised.
Despite the fact that all of the phones used in the test were older models of Android phones, the surprising results are still only 55 percent of the smartphones in the test will be returned if they are lost or misplaced, and the contents are most likely to be accessed.
One phone that was found less than 30 min after it was dropped, showed that the finder tapped an app labeled Contacts list, and another labeled Social Networking almost immediately. Less than 10 minutes later, the finder tapped an app labeled HR Salaries, before sending an email to an address labeled Me in the contacts list. Even after sending the email message, offering to return the phone, an app labeled Passwords was clicked, and within another 60 minutes, the apps labeled Online Banking and Social networking were clicked. The phone was not used for a few days, and was recharged, after which, several more apps were tapped, and the contents of the phone explored further. The consensus is, that the contents of almost all of the smartphones were accessed, by the finders.
The corporate-related and social networking apps were the ones that attracted the most attention as they were tapped on 60% off the phones, while apps for email, photos and passwords were the next most popular among the finders.
In another scenario, it is possible that tracking the use of the phones was disabled, if the SIM card was removed, so there is no way to tell if and what is being used on the phone.
In another seemingly unrelated incident, Symantec reported that cybercriminals are attacking ATM and illegally withdrawing cash by sending text messages with a smartphone. The ingenious technique involved the installation of a virus named Backdoor. B Plotus into the ATM, and then sending text messages or SMS commands to the ATM which then spewed out cash.
Symantec recommends that users protect their phones with strong password protection or encryption software, With the knowledge that smartphones have only 55% chance of being returned if it is lost, users are encouraged to use some of the methods that allow remote locking and wiping of all data on the phone.
Written By Dale Davidson