Many of us have an unhealthy relationship with our smartphones. They are with us all of the time, they hold our attention at inappropriate moments, and they are home to many of our darkest secrets.
A recent study of about 1,000 Americans revealed some interesting things about those “dark secrets” stored on our phone. In particular, the study surveyed what types of data was being stored on phones that the owners were afraid of other people finding. Results:
- Banking information – 25%
- Emails and text messages written – 24%
- Emails and text messages received – 23%
- Websites visited – 15%
- Pornography – 10%
- Naked photos of themselves – 8%
If you're thinking that banking information ranks the highest due to a concern of criminals seeing the data on the phone, you might be surprised. When asked to rank who they wanted to prevent from seeing their data, only 8% were most concerned about hackers / criminals. The other results were:
- Friends – 22%
- Children – 21%
- Co-workers – 21%
- Boss – 18%
- Parents – 12%
- Spouse or significant other – 12%
- Strangers – 12%
The survey was able to dig into the results further by geography and gender. Get all the details in the press release.
The survey respondents must have much more interesting lives than I do, because a stranger or hacker/criminal would be at the top of my list. Imagine if such a person were had access to everything on your smartphone.
- Your contacts would provide live and real email addresses, valuable to spammers
- Banking information may provide a record of how you earn and spend your money
- Email and other messages provide information on the people who are close to you
- Your calendar may provide information on when you will be away from home
- Your apps may provide information on your health, location history, credit score, personal possessions, etc.
Using nothing but a lost or stolen smartphone, a criminal can put together a fairly complete profile of the owner. From there, they can move on to some kind of activity to exploit the information. And this doesn't even take into account the possibility of installing malware on the phone and allowing it to be returned to the user.
The survey revealed that only 81% of respondents use a security code on the phone to protect their data. At a time when mobile theft is reaching dangerous levels, personal devices are taking corporate networks by storm, and social media is pulling more personal data into our devices, can we afford to have 19% of smartphone users NOT securing their phones? To be honest about that number we need to recognize that we don't know for sure that it's accurate. Other surveys have put the number as high as 39%.
How well do you protect your smartphones? Do you secure them with a security code or other mechanism? Are you running antivirus protections? Let us know on social.
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