Data Security: Most Finders of Lost Smartphones Are Snoops

Symantec study shows that although half of lost phones are returned, many finders can’t resist poring over sensitive data.I was sitting in the food court of the Great Mall in Milpitas, Calif. — Great Khan’s Mongolian BBQ to one side, Hot Dog on a Stick to the other — when the adrenaline hit. It was go time for Operation Honey Stick. Cris Paden, a public-relations man at security technology company Symantec, reached across one of the metal tables and passed me an Android smartphone. I placed it on the seat behind me, waited a couple of minutes, and then left — hoping someone would nick the device after our getaway.That day in early February, we “lost” 10 smartphones as part of a multi-city clandestine project to see what happens when digital devices go missing. Symantec organized Operation Honey Stick, named after fake websites known as honeypots that investigators use to snare hackers. A total of 50 smartphones were distributed in Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, and Ottawa. The devices, loaded with a buffet of juicy, fake data, were left in restaurants, elevators, convenience stores, and student unions. Symantec equipped them with monitoring software that let its security gurus track where the devices were taken once found, and what type of information was accessed by the finders.To read this BusinessWeek report in full, see: see:Lost phone? There’s an 89% chance somebody tried to access data
Losing a smartphone won’t just cost you the price of a new phone. A recent study shows that there’s a strong likelihood it will cost you your privacy as well.There is a 96% chance that the finder of a lost cellphone will access the device, and an 89% chance that the finder will access it for personal-related apps and information, according to a new study commissioned by the privacy software company Symantec Corp.,0,1160236.story

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