Be Doubly Afraid Of Cell Phones Lost In Airports

from the danger!-danger! dept

Earlier this week, a scare story about the supposed dangers of hidden data left on used cell phones did the rounds, spurred on by a self-serving vendor’s “research”. Another security company has now picked up the ball and run with it, saying that — gasp! — 40 percent of phones that turn up in UK airports’ lost and found offices aren’t reclaimed. “So what,” you’re probably thinking. But the danger doesn’t stop there! Heathrow Airport auctions off items that aren’t reclaimed after three months! Which means that your lost mobile phone could end up in a stranger’s hands! That means, apparently, that companies should encrypt the data on their mobile phones, so it can’t be accessed. Did we mention that the company behind this story just happens to make software that — and this is totally a coincidence, we’re sure — encrypts data on mobile phones? Somehow, stories like this would be a lot more believable if they didn’t originate from vendors who just happen to have a solution to these invented problems for sale.


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Comments on “Be Doubly Afraid Of Cell Phones Lost In Airports”

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21 Comments
Myself says:

I think this one is real...

I see lots of knives and other confiscated items up on eBay all the time, and I’m sure the lost-and-found items go through a similar resale process if nobody claims them.

I have second-hand knowledge of people cruising the curbs on trash day, pulling hard drives out of discarded computers to paw through their contents. It seems that the same sort of people might be buying lots of unclaimed phones, rummaging through their contents, and then selling the phones at a profit. It’s a double-whammy business model.

Of course there are two ways you’d hear about this: First, if it was widespread, enough victims would put the pieces together and figure out the common link in all their data thefts. Or second, someone with a financial interest in selling a solution whips up a PR piece. Either way, there’s a grain of truth here, if you ignore the pay-for-crypto hype.

So wait, where are the free crypto apps for phones?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: beauty of free market

*snicker* actually, most of the time it’s the journalists inventing ‘sensational’ stories that are really nothing in order to try to pump up their ratings – and the problem is people believe these problems are worse than they really are.

The phones we have at work lock after 30 minutes of non-use. Company policy on them, lol.

That solves the issue..

Sanguine Dream says:

Not much of a strech

This seems like an actual concer to me. The encryption firm may have shot itself in the foot by releasing a study that happens to support the solution they sell but that doesn’t make the issue any less true. Its a fact that more and more people are carrying their data in portable formats and the identity theives know this.

D says:

Old phones

I personally have about 5 old phones that I refuse to get rid of precisely because I cannot easily get rid of all the personal information stored on them while in use. All they do is sit in a box in the garage So no, this story doesn’t surprise me one bit. I’ve viewed this as a problem for a long time, and I don’t sell encryption software for phones.

Maybe I’m just paranoid.

mroonie (user link) says:

Making a molehill out of a mountain....

Security issues have been around forever, and yet people are constantly downplaying them. Not only is this problem severe with cell phones but especially with computer hardware that is being sold in the blackmarkets because of the valuable info it contains, or for parts that are being recycled or even donated to local charities and schools. Check out this post that discusses this current issue. Studies have shown that this problem is getting worse and worse and now with more portable devices such as laptops and cell phones enter the equation, i’m sure it will only get worse from here on out.

®idiculous ©rap says:

it IS a problem

> Did we mention that the company behind this story
> just happens to make software

The cause-and-effect is missing. Just because the company sells cell-security doesn’t mean you should discard their product. (Perhaps you should, I don’t know.) But it wasn’t too long ago that security stalwarts like McAfee and Symantec had to convince people that PC security was important and worth buying. To me the value of protecting data on most any device is obvious.

SimonTek (profile) says:

Last year my phone got stolen, luckily it was a crack head who didn’t seem to bright, all i wanted was the sim card, he could keep the phone. Why cause like an idiot, I left some sensitive numbers on it. So what did I do from now one. Sensitive numbers are kept off all digial devices. Keep them on a black book, that I lock up. I don’t need the numbers on me at all times, but then again I don’t want others to have access to those numbers.

lil'bit says:

seems to be human nature

to come up with solutions, whether there is a problem or not. Look at the so-called voting fraud epidemic – can anyone cite actual proof that the motor-voter law opened the door to massive voter fraud? No, studies in Oregon with the Vote-by-Mail initiative proved just the opposite, less fraud commited. Does someone benefit by requiring ID and shifting voters to “provisional” (read – not counted) ballots? Yes, surprise, those least likely to have picture ID = most likely to vote Democrat = Republicans benefit.

Has anyone bothered to ask a chemist about the latest terrorist threat re:mixing liquids on planes to produce explosives? Someone did and I saw a copy of the article (I would cite the source if I remembered it – try googling) Apparently, one almost has to set up a lab in the airplane bathroom if they want to produce enough explosives – something one thinks an attendent may actually notice (passenger has been in the can for an hour and a half – think there may be a problem?)

What was with the security crackdown anyway? Now that we have released the information and captured the suspects, we better stop allowing liquids on the plane. WTF?!?

Bottom line – people are morons (even me!) and if manipulated correctly, will do anything, no matter how stupid or nonsensical or ineffective.

OWN-the-NWO (user link) says:

coincidence? or by design

Have you heard of the Hegelian dialect?

thesis-antithesis-synthesis

or

problem-reaction-solution

Somthing you deal with every day in life

you have a problem, you reaction, you create a solution.

The dirty little secret of corporations or governments, is they’ve realized they can create the problem to get a reaction from you, and then give you the solution. And along the sheep march with the pied piper.

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