According to Marc Rogers, Principal Security Researcher at Lookout, your smartphone is 30 times more valuable per ounce than a block of solid silver. That comes as no surprise given the vast amount of sensitive and valuable data stored in our smartphones.
A nationwide Consumer Reports survey revealed that 34 percent of all smartphone owners do absolutely nothing to secure their phone, not even a simple code to lock the screen.
While smartphone thefts are starting to decline, users still need to be cautious about the things they store in their devices. Here's a list of 5 things smartphone users should stop storing in their devices, regardless of this decline.
#1. Social security numbers
Most of us have our own social security number memorized. But, how many of us have memorized our spouse's social security number? I'm one of those people who has her spouse's social security number saved in her phone, discreetly disguised as a phone number. But, if I'm doing it, how many other people are doing it - and wouldn't clever identity thieves know people are doing it? Since my spouse is clearly identified as "wife" in my phone, even the dumbest identity thief can easily collect her name, social security number and birth date - also noted in my smartphone calendar.
Here are some statistics that might interest you:
60 to 80% of Social Security numbers have been stolen by hackers
In 2014, only 250 social security numbers were replaced due to misuse
Over 17 million people per year are victims of identity theft
Over 3.5 million social security numbers are stolen each year
When experts started telling us that reusing passwords across multiple websites was bad for us, people started creating different passwords for different websites. The problem is: we quickly learned just how many passwords we used every day. It became harder and harder to remember all of them. The solution was to create a note in our smartphone that stored all of our passwords, making it easy for us to quickly find the password we needed. The smartphone thief, who also wants to hack your bank account, just loves that.
21% of people use passwords that are over 10 years old
2 out of 5 people have had an account hacked
73% of online accounts are protected by duplicated passwords
#3. Geotagged pictures and videos
Geotagging adds geographical identification metadata to your pictures and videos. When we post pictures on Facebook or Twitter, we don't willingly add our home address or work address to each picture. Or, do we? If you have Geo-location tagging turned on when you take pictures, you're essentially posting your address with every picture or video you post. Leave those geotagged pictures of your brand new car, flat-screen TV and sweet new Harley in your phone and you'll come back from vacation even more stressed than you were when you left.
Use these tools to remove geotagging on your pictures:
I know you love your sweetie. And it's great you wanted to send him that smokin' hot selfie of you wearing nothing but what your mama gave you. But, couple that nude selfie with geotagging and you could have a mess on your hands. Leave your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram passwords in a notepad on your smartphone and, in the wrong hands, things could get really, really ugly.
23% of people who sent nude selfies became victims of revenge porn
30% of people who sent nude selfies said they were stalked outside the internet
#5. Pictures of your credit cards
Just like those social security numbers we can't remember, people often store credit card numbers - complete with expiration dates and CVV codes - in a file on their smartphone. Some people will even snap a picture of the card - both front and back - so they don't have to carry a purse or wallet around with them. Storing credit card data on a smartphone is a huge risk, especially since a thief can steal your phone and use your own phone to spend every dime you have in a matter of minutes.
47% of the world's credit card theft happens in the US
28% of women and 21% of men have had their credit card information stolen through a computer hack
Card-not-present fraud accounted for 45% of credit card fraud in 2014
Smartphone features have made our lives more interesting and, hell, arguably a lot more fun.
Like hundreds of other things designed for convenience and fun, scammers have exploited smartphones and made them dangerous to use at times. Experts project that over a third of the world's population - 2.6 billion people - will own a smartphone by 2017. That means good people have to get a lot smarter than the scammers - and fast!
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