“Why did you lose it?” is the first question to ask.
Last week AVG sent a tickler email about its newest “Lost in Transit” survey looking at what people were doing when they lost their mobiles. I waited until closer to Christmas — time when likelihood of loss increases — to post some of the results. AVG provided additional data not disclosed in its blog post or infographic (below).
The holidays aren’t just a time for losing valuable tech, but increased security risk. Some of the most damaging hacks or malware releases occurred during the holidays. As such, some companies are extra vigilant. For example, Microsoft’s Security Response Center has staff on duty in the event of cyberattack (typically through malware) against its Windows customers.
Smartphones typically contain lots of personal data that cybercriminals could use to steal your identity, or worse breach your employer’s network. If you’re like most people, you commingle personal and work data and log-ins on your smartphone. Your lost device could compromise the corporate network when IT staff is on holiday. That makes the mobile you casually leave for a few seconds a valuable commodity to cybercriminals.
“With roughly half of owners admitting their devices contain sensitive data (42 percent of smartphone users and 53 percent of laptop owners), losing a mobile device can mean more than simply losing a prized possession,” says AVG’s Tony Anscombe.
Your lost device could contain a ticking time bomb waiting for a hacker to set it off. Two nights ago, I shopped at Fashion Valley mall here in San Diego. Near the Nordstrom I passed three people looking over a smartphone. The man said to one of the two women: “My password is ‘password’. That’s simply outrageous, but too common practice. In June, hacktivist group LulzSec released 62,000 account combinations — with hundreds of instances of “123456” and “password” as password.
US CERT offers advice on choosing passwords that you should take.
Many people travel during the holidays, which increases chances they’ll simply leave their mobile device behind somewhere — “41 percent of owners have them left them behind on a plane, taxi, car or train”, Anscombe explains.
Keeping with the holiday security spirit, US CERT issued this alert four days ago:
As the winter holiday travel season begins, US-CERT would like to remind users to be mindful of the security risks associated with portable devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.
US-CERT would like to encourage users to review the following US-CERT Cyber Security Tips. Following the security practices suggested in each tip will help to keep your portable devices secure during the holiday season and throughout the year.
Sudden surge in tablet sales, mostly iPads, adds to the security risk — it’s another device to be lost, left behind or stolen.
Circling back to the AVG survey, some interesting findings:
- 42 percent of smartphone users don’t password protect their devices.
- Britons are most likely to lose a smartphone during a holiday/Christmas party (13 percent) followed by Aussies and Germans (12 percent).
- Eleven percent of Americans lost a smartphone during a holiday/Christmas party.
- Only 15 percent of the more than 5,000 survey respondents were “aware” they had lost their smartphone, when it happened.
- Canadians, Frenchmen (and women) and Italians were most aware when losing their smartphones (20 percent).
- Canadians are most likely to lose their mobiles when “loaded full of shopping” (17 percent) — Germans least (4 percent).
- Germans and Spaniards are more likely to lose smartphones when distracted or busy — 45 percent and 44 percent, respectively — followed by Americans (43 percent).
- Britons are most likely to be intoxicated, and presumably at the pub, too (14 percent), followed by Kiwis (11 percent) and Aussies (10 percent).
- The French are least likely to be intoxicated when losing a smartphone (4 percent) — or perhaps least likely to admit being so.
Have you lost a smartphone during the holidays? Please share your tragic tale in comments.
Photo Credit: Nate Bolt