For almost everyone, losing their cellphone is a fact of life. Chances are it's happened to you, and if it hasn't, well, just you wait. So what are our neighbors across the pond doing to protect the information on devices that will almost invariably end up in the hands of a stranger? The answer: not much.
A Sophos survey of U.K. phone users between ages 16 and 64 found that of all lost or forgotten devices, 42 percent had no data protection mechanism in place. In the age of smartphones, that means very sensitive information, such as payment details or company secrets stored in email accounts, could readily be accessed, manipulated or destroyed by any passerby who happened to stumble upon an unprotected phone.
The study found that while men lose their devices more than women, at a rate of 38 percent versus 33 percent, 66 percent of men had security set up, while only 49 percent of women did. The study also found that half of the urbanites in London lost their device while only 36 percent in less densely populated areas lost theirs. Londoners, however, seem to be more security-savvy. Sixty-six percent put locks on their devices while the rest of the nation secures their mobile devices at a rate of 58 percent.
While the young have a much higher propensity for losing their phones, they know how to secure them better than their elders. Fifty-five percent of those between ages 16 and 24 secure their mobile gadgets, but they're four times as likely to lose them.
In terms of recovering a lost device, the study found, speed is key. Although only one-fifth of lost devices were recovered in the first 24 hours of being lost, after one day, the recovery rate drops significantly.
The line between personal and work devices is becoming increasingly blurry, and many companies' IT policies when it comes to Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) are behind the times. A lack of guidelines for securing mobile devices that employees receive corporate email on leaves internal information vulnerable to the perusal of anyone who happens to find a lost device.
Losing a personal device such as a laptop or cellphone can mean saying goodbye to pictures and notes. It's devastating enough on its own. For that loss to lead to a data breach as well just compounds the damage and users should do everything at their disposal to protect against it.
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