200|000 Mobile Phones left in London Cabs

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Almost 200,000 people leave their mobile phones in the back of London’s fleet of 25,000 black cabs. Mark James, security specialist at ESET, looks at the potential implications and security pitfalls.

What’s even more incredible is the number of those phones that are unlocked and unprotected. ESET’s study shows that roughly half of those 200,000 abandoned mobile phones are not protected by a pin code.

It’s a frightening statistic. Especially considering that we use our “mobiles for a multitude of tasks”, as Mark puts it, including “online banking or connecting to corporate email systems”.

Why should I protect my phone?

I like to think that I have a decent amount of faith in humanity. But would I trust a stranger or group of strangers not to have a little gander through my phone if it were left unattended? Certainly not!

I don’t have anything particularly dodgy on my phone and I make a point not to online bank or make purchases with it: what do I have to worry about?

Well there are my texts, emails, social media accounts and my contacts list: all of these could be used to better target phishing schemes.

Even your personal calendar could be an issue: you don’t want those nasty criminals to know when you’re away from your house.

Now imagine if a high level CEO misplaces his phone in a cab. There could be potential access to corporate email, bank accounts, employee records etc.

What can I do to protect my phone?

The obvious first step is to not leave it in a cab. Check your pockets people!

Failing that lock your phone with a pin. It doesn’t have to be anything to complicated: an opportunistic thief, someone who picks up your phone in a cab for example, probably isn’t going to try that hard to get into your phone.

Just because you have a secure passcode and keep and close eye on your phone, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get an AV on there. As Mark puts it, “security on your mobile device must be a priority, not an afterthought”.

Get an AV that offers services like remote lock, GPS location and remote wipe. Particularly when it comes to business phones, sometimes protecting your data means destroying it altogether.