Stolen Sidekicks And Adventures In Real-Time Syncing

from the hidden-benefits dept

A while back, I wrote a piece for TheFeature, talking about one of the downsides to real-time syncing between a mobile phone and an operator’s server. Specifically, I was discussing the T-Mobile Sidekick, which automatically copies everything you do on the phone to a server. This can be quite useful, as you have a real-time backup of everything on your phone. It also lets you log in to the server via the web — and since the server syncs back to the phone as well, you basically have a web interface to your phone. That can be really useful. The downside, however, is that it makes the data in your phone a bit less private. In the article above, the concern was highlighted due to a hacker getting login information for many T-Mobile subscribers. That gave him full access to everything on their phones via the web interface. Since most people tend to think that the data on their phone is safe unless they’ve lost the phone itself, this could represent a problem. In fact, about a month after writing that article, the famous hacking of Paris Hilton’s Sidekick became a big story. However, it appears there’s now a reverse situation going on. A story getting passed rapidly around the blogworld is one where the owner of a stolen Sidekick used the real-time backup to get the AOL screen name of the person who ended up with the phone, as well as numerous photos taken by that person. In this case, the real-time syncing allowed the true owner of the phone to communicate with and see who had taken the phone. The original phone owner is now using the web and the attention this has generated to track down more info on the person (who refuses to give back the phone) and figure out what next steps to take. Whether this is an example of crowdsourcing or a web mob may depend on your perspective.

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Comments on “Stolen Sidekicks And Adventures In Real-Time Syncing”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Why not subpoena AOL for the IP that the screen name has connected from, then subpoena the ISP for the subscriber. If it works for the **AA, then why not for us too?

It will probably work for him too. Notice that the site is almost a live account of what is going on. It started yesterday and is continuing today. He mentions that T-mobile and the police are involved now, so I have no doubt that the people will be caught for this, there just has not been a chance yet.

I’m not sure if I agree that public humiliation is in order. Even though these people are obviously guilty, they have not been proven so in a court of law by a jury of their peers. While I get a mean satisfaction in knowing that stupid people are getting theirs, I feel bad that at least some of these people may just be caught up in a big misunderstanding. Take the 16 yo girl. It sounds like she was given the sidekick by a friend/relative whoe may or may not have bought it off of the cab driver. If so, does she really deserve to have this mark against her for such a small crime?

I’m not vilifying it, but I am also not condoning it. I am really not sure where I stand, and we’ll just have to let this play out.

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