Land of the Lost Mobile Phones

Have you ever experienced that panicked moment when you realize you can’t find your mobile phone? You check your pockets, your car, your couch cushions, but alas the phone is nowhere to be found. When you finally realize you left it on a park bench, it’s long gone. If this has happened to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Losing a mobile phone or having it stolen is the modern day version of losing your wallet. It’s something that can easily happen to you and when it does, it’s a mobile misfortune.

Your phone is your bank, your gym, your calendar, your photo album, and so much more. In fact, we’ve become so dependent on our devices that researchers have introduced the term “nomophobia” (or, no-mobile-phone-phobia) to describe the anxiety that comes with not having your phone to complete everyday tasks. With our phone dependency at an all time high, it’s only a matter of time until sensitive information is entered into your device. It may make your life easier, but if your device gets in the wrong hands, what could happen to your data?

In a recent field experiment held in San Francisco and New York, 10 phones were scattered in both cities with the hopes that those who found them would return them. All of the phones were marked with easy-to-find contact information, but both cities failed the test. Only 4 phones were returned; 2 in each city.

These days, finding a mobile device is a lot like finding a dollar bill on the ground. Someone picks it up, they look around for the owner, but seeing no one in the general vicinity, they pocket it. Except unlike a dollar bill, smart phones can be tracked, which is exactly what the study did.

Using proprietary technology, each phone was tracked for five months, even though the phone had been wiped clean by the thief or the second-hand buyer to whom it was sold. The phones went on adventures that would have made even Lewis and Clark envious. One device even ventured as far as Mumbai, India.

So if you lose your phone, it’s likely you’re saying ‘sayonara’ to not only an expensive device, but also to your data. While most are wiped clean, it’s important to add security measures before losing your phone, because you never know who will find it and what information might be stolen.

  • Back up your phone: If your phone is lost or stolen, having your data backed up can ease the pain.
  • Put a PIN on it: Putting a PIN on your device will stop people from getting into your device, and more importantly, from accessing your data.
  • Install security software: McAfee® Mobile Security, for both Android and iOS offers a variety of protections to help keep your mobile device safe.

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