Get Safe Online: don’t be a victim of mobile information theft
As this month’s Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) shows an increase in mobile phone theft, not-for profit organisation Get Safe Online is reminding people to protect the information stored on their devices
Today our mobile phones are an extension of our lives and identities; we do everything on them from communicating with friends, shopping, banking, gaming to taking photographs. And as mobile phones become more sophisticated multi-purpose devices, not protecting them with a password can be likened to leaving your keys in your front door. All of the contents are vulnerable to theft.
In 2010/11 there were an estimated 797,000 phones stolen in England and Wales, and in 2011/12 this rose to 826,000*. While many criminals are likely to be interested only in your handset, a growing number may realise the value of what is stored on your phone too.
Despite this, Get Safe Online’s research shows that almost half (48%) of people still don’t have a password or pin protection on their mobiles. In addition, one in ten people (11%) still store passwords on their phones, almost one in 10 (9%) store bank details, and over a third (32%) are permanently logged into their social networking sites.
This means that thieves could get far more than they bargained for. Not only do they have their hands on your physical device, but they also have all the tools they need to steal your identity via your apps and online accounts, and run up huge bills in your name. This is a worrying thought, but fortunately, there are very simple things you can do to avoid being the victim of mobile information theft.
Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said: “We need to start thinking of our mobile phones as more like a wallet, with lots of content inside that can also be stolen. Similar to when we cancel all our cards, we need to make sure we’re taking steps to protect everything that’s stored in our phones too. By far, the simplest thing to do is to put a PIN number on your tablet or smartphone. It might seem like an inconvenience at first but trust me, after a few days it just becomes second nature and it will save a lot of hassle in the long run.”
Pat Carroll, cybercrime expert and CEO of ValidSoft (the fraud prevention technology company) said: “It’s particularly worrying that nearly half of consumers fail to protect their mobile phones with even the lowest level of security, ‘a password’. When you combine that with the high level of personal data we store on our smartphones and the number of phones reported stolen each year, one can start to get an appreciation for the level of personal risk. More action is needed from banks, payment providers, app providers and teclo companies to sufficiently secure transactions, but consumer power can also be a powerful catalyst for change.”
Top tips for limiting the impact of a mobile theft:
· Protect your device with a password or PIN protection
· Type *#06# into your handset to get the IMEI number, and make a note of it to enable reporting if stolen
· Register your device on the Immobilise National Property Register - if it gets recovered by the police after being lost or stolen there is a better chance of it being reunited with the rightful owner
· When you sync your device to your computer, check the sync settings to ensure you are not transferring excessive data, which does not need to be on the device
· Never store passwords on your smartphone or tablet
· Ensure your devices are adequately insured
· Download a reputable app which enables you to trace your device in the event of loss or theft
· If your device has GPS or a built in location service do not add your home address as an obvious favourite or bookmark so that it cannot be discovered by a thief
If you do lose your phone remember to immediately change the passwords for all your apps and online accounts
Get Safe Online has declared this month ‘Mobile May’ and aims to raise awareness of how mobile users can stay safe online. If you would like further information, Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, is available for interviews.
GetSafeOnline.org on social media:
· Twitter: @getsafeonline
· Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GetSafeOnline
For further information:
· Contact the Get Safe Online press office team on 0207 025 6662 or [email protected].
· Visit www.getsafeonline.org/go/media
About Get Safe Online
Get Safe Online (www.getsafeonline.org), which is now in its seventh year, is the UK’s national internet security awareness initiative. A joint partnership between the Government, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Ofcom and private sector sponsors from the worlds of technology, communication, retail and finance, the initiative continues to educate, inform and raise awareness of internet security issues to encourage confident, safe use of the internet. GetSafeOnline.org is supported by the Cabinet Office, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), Home Office, Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), National Fraud Authority & Action Fraud, Ofcom, HSBC, Microsoft, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, Gumtree, Trend Micro, Symantec and PayPal.
About Tony Neate, CEO, GetSafeOnline.org
Tony Neate is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Get Safe Online – the UK’s leading source of unbiased, authoritative and easy-to-understand information on protection against fraud, identity theft, viruses and many other problems encountered online.
Few people can boast as much experience in cyber crime. A 30-year Police career saw Tony progress from South Wales Police’s Commercial Fraud Squad dealing largely with computer, investment and credit card fraud, to being responsible for industry liaison within the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, remaining there when it became a part of SOCA. 2006 saw Tony retire from the Police and take up his current position.
An engaging and entertaining speaker, Tony regularly presents to conferences, forums and meetings both in the UK and overseas. He frequently appears on television and radio and gives interviews to national newspapers and magazines.
About the Get Safe Online research
The survey of 3,150 adults in the UK was conducted by market researchers OnePoll.com in October 2012.
Founded in 2006, OnePoll is a division of the SWNS Group and boasts a 100,000-strong UK panel and access to over 1 million worldwide. Working with some of the UK's largest marketing, advertising and PR agencies, as well as with a range of well known high-street and online brands, OnePoll helps them conduct robust research, gain valuable insights and secure widespread press coverage. OnePoll employs members of ESOMAR and adhere to the MRS code of conduct.