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ID theft a reality for mobile users

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Page last updated: 15th May 2009 - 04:12 PM

New research has been carried out by security firm Credant into just how safe mobile phone users are from the threat of data theft. The results are quite shocking, and suggest that up to 4.2 million people across the country are at risk of becoming victims of identity theft due to sensitive data being stored on their mobile handsets.

Credant interviewed a selection of London commuters for its research, and the figures reveal that more and more people are saving data on their phones that is potentially sensitive without realising the dangers that this represents to them or to the people whose details they hold on the handsets.

The research found that 24% of those interviewed kept their passwords or pin numbers on their phones, and that 10% store credit card information. But despite that, only 6 in 10 people use a password to protect their phones, meaning they are leaving them open to abuse if the handsets are stolen.

And it’s not just personal details that are being put at risk. 99% of those interviewed used their phones to conduct business of some sort, meaning the contact details of colleagues and clients are being put at risk as well.

One of the reasons that the problem is so large is the proliferation of smartphones. As phone handsets have become ever more capable and people have become increasingly dependent on them, more and more data is being stored on them. Although this is very convenient, it is putting a greater number of people at risk.

Experts say that if you are going to keep sensitive data on your phone then password protection or even data encryption is essential in order to reduce the risks.

Graham Cluley, who is the senior technology consultant for the security firm Sophos, said after reading the findings that for people storing sensitive data on their phones, they “must ensure it's protected by a good password - or even better a pass-phrase”.

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