Symantec Smartphone Honey Stick Project Reveals that Half of the Lost Phones are Returned; But Data in Risk

March 14, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

It is obvious that the chances of getting back a stolen phone are pretty close to zero, but what about lost ones?

It was a question that security software developer Symantec had been grappling with and that seems to have made them run an experiment called ‘Smartphone Honey Stick Project’ to see the chances of lost smartphones to be returned and the safety of the data on such phones.

As part of their experiment, Symantec ‘lost’ 50 different smartphones in different places in NY City, Los Angeles,Washington DC, San Francisco and Ottawa. Then they observed the return rate of the lost phones.

The results were interesting. As many as 25, out of the total 50 phones lost , were returned. That means half of the people who got their hands on the lost phones tried to contact the owner using the information entered under the ’Me’ contact.

All the phones in the Honey Stick project were set without password and had fake information which looked like corporate data, marked under names like ‘HR Salaries’. To understand the tendency of the people who get lost devices, the project has also included a fake app which looked like a remote admin app to control a corporate server.

With the help of such traps, it was found that 60 percent of the people who got the lost phones tried to access the email accounts and personal information of the owner of the phone and 80 percent of them have tried to access the corporate information.

Almost half of the finders tried to access the corporate server through the fake admin app and 43 percent of them tried to access the owner’s bank accounts using the phone.

So as the moral of the story, Symantec suggests you to enable a lock screen for your device with a password, or your info on the device will be at risk if the device is lost.

Moreover, the firm suggest using apps to wipe the phone when you are sure that it is lost.  It also advices users not to put it with other valuables, like with a wallet or bag, to reduce the chances of losing the device if you get mugged.

Any suggestion from your part?

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