The study results showed that smart phone users have cause for concern if their device is stolen or lost and recovered by a stranger.
--96 percent of the phones were accessed by those who recovered them.
--57 percent accessed the "Saved Passwords" file.
--72 percent accessed the "Private Photos" folder.
--60 percent accessed social networking and personal email apps.
--About 40 percent attempted to access bank account information.
According to the results, only half of those who recovered a phone made any attempt to return the device, despite the owner's email address and phone number being listed in the device's contacts.
This group has pushed smartphone makers to program alerts into devices that walk new users through the process of setting up security features, including passwords, personal identification numbers and swipe-to-unlock patterns.
iOS 7, the most recent version of Apple's mobile operating system, takes several steps to improve its security features, including Activation Lock, which ties each device to the user's iCloud account. Any activities a thief might want to engage in with a stolen phone -- turning off tracking apps or erasing the device -- will now require a password. Essentially, Apple says, the feature makes a phone only valuable to its legitimate owner.
Although iOS 7 will come preinstalled on all new Apple devices, the update -- and activation lock functionality -- is backward compatible with the company's earlier generations of devices. On
"It is our hope that ... the widespread use of this new system will end the victimization of iPhone users, as thieves learn that the devices have no value on the secondary market," the statement reads. "While it is too early to tell if Activation Lock will be a comprehensive solution to the epidemic of 'Apple Picking' crimes that have victimized iPhone and iPad owners around the world, we believe it is a step forward ... and strongly urge the other leading manufacturers of smartphones to quickly implement effective theft deterrents that protect their customers from violent crime."
Despite efforts to improve their awareness of built-in and after-market security software, smartphone users seem, by and large, not to be taking advantage of these defenses.
Protecting data on a smartphone is just as much about being forearmed as forewarned, victims say.
Ultimately, dogged perseverance and SeekDroid made all the difference,
"We called [the thief] and told them that we knew where they were, we had their address and to take it to the police and we wouldn't file charges," she says. "They tried to call our bluff, but we sent them a picture of their house on Google Maps.
"We totally got it back."
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