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Credit reference agency Equifax released research into the potential impact of Identity Fraud among Smart Phone users in 2011. Since then, the number of crimes reported has grown in proportion to the number of smart phones in use in the UK. In 2013, the Metropolitan Police Force stated that on average 10,000 handsets were stolen in London each month.In total, there were 742,000 victims of mobile phone theft in England and Wales according to the 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales. Action Fraud, Part of the National Fraud and Cyber Crime reporting Centre highlights many risks that Smart Phone users face, including those assoicated with the storing of personal information on their phones.
Accordng to research carried out by Equifax, 40% of smart phone users don’t have a pin number enabled on their handset. The key to tackling identity theft is to think ahead. A lost or stolen handset with the right software pre-installed and pin activation enabled can remove the risk of a third party getting hold of your private details. This is reflected in the Crime rates for England and Wales, where the advent of iOS7 (Apple iPhone) saw a marked reduction in handset theft simply becuase the iPhone operating system included additional anti-theft features. Software is available for both the iPhone and Android platform that will securely erase your data remotely:
Apple iOS: iPhone and iPad users can use Apple’s Find My Phone app to track where your device is. You can also put your device in Lost Mode which will lock the screen and you can even erase your data from the device. The Find My Phone app is available in the App Store.
Google Android: Google’s Android Device Manager can lock the device or erase the data. The Android Device Manager app can be downloaded from the Play Store.
Unfortunately, the findings of the reasearch show how cavalier many Smartphone owners are with their information and Identity.
The highlights of the research can be broadly broken down into:
The prevelance of iPhone and Android users means that handsets are now a part of every day life. Yet many users claim to overlook the security issues that these devices can leave us open to through their every day use:
End of Life
With a life expectancy of between 1 and 2 years, smart phones may carry a lot of our personal information but have a short life span. Driven out of a cycle of continual upgrading, a residual value may be realised through their disposal, but this leaves the user at risk of identity theft from third parties:
Ultimately, the best way to protect yourself and your information is to download and register your phone with a piece of software that will allow you to remotely manage it. That way, if it ever gets stolen or lost, you can simply nuke it!
About the Author: Richard Anthony Johnson
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