Home What We Do When We Find Someone Else’s Cell Phone

What We Do When We Find Someone Else’s Cell Phone

Some of us have had to deal with losing our cell phones but Symantec decided to do some actual research to find out what the finders of these phones actually ended up doing. They literally dropped the 50 smartphones in five different cities: New York City; Washington D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Ottawa, Canada. They were left in high traffic public places such as elevators, malls, food courts (as shown above), and public transit stops. All but two of them were accessed by the folks who found them, and only half made any attempt to return them.

The researchers deliberately put fake data on each phone with tempting document names such as “HR Salaries” and 80% of the finders took a look to see what was in these files. Half of the finders tried to run what looked like a remote access app to see if they could connect to the corporate network. (That was just another head fake and didn’t lead to any actual connection.)

While a depressing account of the trust in our fellow man, there are some good things to come from what Symantec calls its “Honey Stick” experiment. (The name is in reference to honeypots, a tried and tested security process that leaves an open server someone out on the Internet for hackers to abuse and take control over.) Obviously one lesson learned from this experiment is to make sure you password-protect your phone. This isn’t that hard to do. Second is to have some kind of remote-wiping app once a phone is lost. Third, make use of find-my-phone features such as what is now available on modern iOS devices.

There are several other very good suggestions on what to do when your phone is stolen on Symantec’s blog here.

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