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4.2 Million Cell Phone Users Leave Sensitive Data Unprotected

"People are ignorant to how easy a professional thief could take over their life and effectively destroy it."

According to the findings of a survey by Credant Technologies, 80 percent of phone users store information on their phones that could easily be used to steal their identities. The research surveyed 600 commuters at London railway stations about their mobile phones, typical usage and the types of sensitive information stored on them. The results were horrifying:

  • 16 percent have their bank account details saved on their mobile phones
  • 24 percent their pin numbers and passwords 
  • 11 percent keep social security and inland revenue details
  • 10 percent store credit card information
  • 40 percent naively fail to protect their devices with a password

Further investigation reveals the information stored is not restricted to personal details as most users also use their personal devices for business use:

  • 99 percent of people use their phones for some sort of business use - even though 26 percent have been instructed by their employer not to do so
  • 35 percent receive and send business emails 
  • 77 percent keep business names and addresses
  • 30 percent use them as a business diary
  • 17 percent download corporate information, such as documents and spreadsheets
  • 23 percent store customers' information

When you consider that 4 out of 10 people are not password protecting their devices, it makes many millions of users seriously exposed to the trappings of mobile phone criminals and opportunists who can use this information to clone someone's personal, or even corporate, life.

According to Paul Huntingdon -- Public Sector Director at Credant Technologies and adviser to many Government departments and large corporations, "Once you have access to someone's e-mails, passwords, birthdays, business diary, documents, children's names and pets you can easily masquerade as that person, sending out emails under their name, read all their corporate data and get to see every personal detail of their life. People are ignorant to how easy a professional thief could take over their life and effectively destroy it. It is therefore imperative that all mobile phone users, even with the most basic handset, password protect and encrypt them."

Steve Gold, Telecoms journalist and IT expert adds "People can be destroyed when their phone gets into the wrong hands -- for example blackmail, abuse and threats, just by leaving it accessible without password protection. Imagine how easy it would be to assume or destroy the life of a colleague just by stealing their phone -- if it was the company chairman's phone you could send emails from him announcing his resignation -- a practical joke with serious consequences."