Loss of a phone is no longer a financial loss alone. As you carry your world in your palm now, in the form of family pictures, net-banking details, personal emails, texts or passwords, loss of a phone means you lose a lot of your privacy, letting strangers access your daily life.
A recent global study by security solutions provider Kaspersky Lab and market research company B2B International has found that young Internet users, aged under 24, lose devices more frequently than older adults. And of the total young adults surveyed, 83 per cent claim to have suffered negative consequences afterwards. The figure is slightly higher than the overall average of 77%.
The study was conducted online, surveying users aged 16 and over from 26 countries, including India.
In the past year, finds the research, more than one in four young Internet users have lost their devices (17%) or had their devices stolen (13%), with a third losing access to their online accounts, or suffering from a loss of data privacy as a result.
Overall, one in seven users (14%) experienced the loss or theft of a device. This figure rises to 26% among users under the age of 24.
A third (32%) of the 16-24-year-olds have had their online accounts hacked as a result — compared to 27% overall on average. One in four has suffered the permanent loss of precious personal images and videos (25%), along with the leaking of personal and sensitive information (24%).
The study also found a fifth of users (22%) overall were disciplined at work after losing their device because it contained business data. In addition, a fifth (21%) noticed that financial details stored on the device had been misused.
When affected by loss or theft, to protect themselves, only four in ten blocked the device through their mobile operator or reported the incident to the police, and only 29 per cent remotely wiped the device or tried to track it down using a ‘find my device’ software. A total of 12,355 people, including 401 respondents from India, were surveyed.
Evgeny Guryanov, product manager at Kaspersky Lab, said, “It is easy for our devices, when lost or stolen, to become digital frenemies. Device loss or theft is not just an inconvenience but a breach of your very identity and privacy. It is therefore imperative that it is, at the very least, password protected, that all sensitive data is encrypted, and that mobile security apps are up to date.”
Advocating use of an anti-theft feature as part of a wider security solution to block third-parties, Guryanov says it helps locate the device and clean it of personal data if necessary, and “can go a long way to protecting users, even after loss or theft” of a device.
“This is a serious problem because most of us do banking operations on our mobile phones. There are key recorder codes that read information that we type on our smart phones and tablets. These are sent from time to time to attackers. Moreover, even 10-year-olds at home are adept at operating these devices. They download all kinds of apps and while doing so give full permission for access. Most of us have at least 60 apps on our phones but hardly use four or five on a daily basis. The rest of the apps are sitting in the device with full access to our contacts, photos and several other personal data,” said Altaf Halde, managing director, South Asia, Kaspersky Lab.