Stolen & Lost Mobile Devices A Growing Problem

Iphone

Over the past few months, I have written Fearless Web blogs about the growing problem of stolen and lost smartphones and mobile devices. It was my hope that by shedding some light on these often avoidable incidents that this nonsense would cease.

And yet it hasn’t. In fact, it seems to have gotten worse. It’s like the whole world is not reading my blogs nor taking my advice. Obviously, this annoys me greatly.

If you read today’s New York Times front-page story titled Cellphone Thefts Grow, but the Industry Looks the Other Way, you would learn that the “new nationwide database for stolen cellphones, which tracks a phone’s unique identifying number to prevent it from being activated, theoretically discouraging thefts…has not helped stanch the ever-rising numbers of phone thefts, in part because many stolen phones end up overseas, out of the database’s reach, and in part because the identifiers are easily modified.”

Grrrrrr.  And, surprise, surprise, this article suggests that the mobile phone industry isn’t all that concerned nor interested in adding more security features because, if you have to buy a new phone after one is lost or stolen, well, that’s more money in their pockets.

There was more bad news in yesterday’s CNET piece titled Smartphone safety lagging, referencing the annual “State of the Net” offering from Consumer Reports:

  • Many users don’t secure their phones. Almost 40 percent don’t take even minimal security measures.
  • Malicious software is a real threat. Last year, 5.6 million Americans experienced such problems as sending unauthorized text messages and having accounts accessed without permission.

I fantasy about mobile devices having the ability to self-destruct after say a minute or two in the hands of someone other than the owner…but, clearly, there could be liability issues that would probably outweigh the benefit. Until someone comes up with better ideas, it probably best to employ the suggestions outlined in the Consumer Reports article Keep your phone safe – How to protect yourself from wireless threats. And, oh, yeah, consider some of Trend Micro Mobile Security.

Ultimately, I think the best prevention against having your smartphone stolen remains common sense. Don’t use your mobile device just anywhere and everywhere. Go some place safe whenever you use it. Then keep track of it like it’s a two-year-old, never letting out of your hand or sight. Password protect it, too (I’m talking to you 40 percenters who don’t even use minimal security measures). After all, it is your digital life…

But, please don’t do this if your cell phone should falls on to train tracks: “Your cell phone or your life? One girl in Brazil almost lost both…”

I work for Trend Micro and the opinions expressed here are my own.
By Richard Medugno

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