How much personal data do mobile phones contain? And do they pose a risk to our identities?
Undoubtedly the mobile phone has over the past few years become a technologically advanced device that offers a large host of features beyond its traditional use as a communications device.
Today almost every mobile phone now features some sort of ability to store and record information or the ability to take either photographs or capture video.
Additionally the phone may also be equipped with a voice recorder allowing the user to record sounds and voices. In some cases, these mobile phone features can be used to store sensitive information such as passwords, bank account information, photos and other personal information.
With the storage capacity on mobile phones set to increase, so does the ongoing threat from identity fraud as a result of leaving sensitive information on a mobile device.
Whilst the evolution of the mobile handset from a voice only communications tool to a device that can facilitate access to a range of lifestyle choices is exciting, there are concerns regarding the security of this personal data especially when it comes to the loss, theft or legitimate disposal of such items.
This view was echoed by Joe Nocera, an information security expert and a principle with PricewaterhouseCoopers who said: “Many of the security concerns that people think about when they think about their personal computers are applicable in the mobile world.
As mobile devices become more sophisticated, they lend themselves to the same types of access to e-mail, passwords, and other secure information that PCs have done in the past .”
In order to quantify whether used mobile phones constituted a real risk to their former owner’s identities, CPP commissioned Jason Hart, senior vice president at CRYPTOCard to analyse 35 used mobiles including the latest smartphones to more basic models and 50 SIM cards.
The purpose of the experiment was to qualify what type of sensitive information, if any, had been left on resold mobile handsets and SIM cards - even if it had been assumed deleted, and whether the information was enough to steal someone’s identity to commit ID fraud.
It is important to note that at no point during the review was any unauthorised access or sensitive information used against the original owner of the device or SIM.
So what did we find out? Look out for part 2… coming soon!
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