For smartphone owners (and iPhone owners in particular) the risk of theft is always present. Millions of smartphones are stolen every year and most of them are never recovered. A quick survey of recent Twitter posts is enough to demonstrate the phenomenon:
$50 reward to anyone who returns my stolen iPhone. PLEASE RETURN. it has a case with cats on the back. (friends at KU please retweet)
— Rachel (@whoopsiedavies) April 16, 2014
Bought this iPhone 5s from craigslist and it's reported stolen/lost smh
— Giovanni (@OhitsGio) April 16, 2014
Great day today got my iPhone i had for about 5 days stolen pissed but ill live
— Clay Ryan LaBrant (@Clayryan1314) April 14, 2014
Today last year I was in San Fran and my iPhone was stolen (3rd one broken/lost/stolen) #timehop
— Jess Marie (@JmFitz24) April 15, 2014
Now it appears that, even as smartphones become more secure than ever through software, smartphone theft is rising rapidly.
Consumer Reports today issued a new survey showing that 3.1 million Americans had their smartphones stolen last year. That is nearly two times the 1.6 million stolen U.S. smartphones that the firm estimated for 2012.
“Given how much personal information smart phones can contain - from photos, contacts, email accounts to social-networks, shopping, and banking apps - losing one of these devices or having one stolen can definitely be cause for panic,” said Glenn Derene, editor for Electronics at Consumer Reports. “Our survey revealed that the number of lost and stolen smart phones is on the rise, and too many smart-phone users are needlessly imperiling their personal data by not taking basic security measures.”
In addition to the thefts, the survey found that 1.4 million smartphones were lost for good during 2013, a slight rise from the 1.2 million lost in 2012.
With smartphone loss and theft so common, it would make sense for smartphone owners to protect themselves using every method available to them. This is not the case, however, as most smartphone users do not implement even basic security measures.
Consumer Reports found that only 36% of smartphone owners using a screen lock with a 4-digit pin. This is a 50% increase over 2012, but still far short of a majority.
The survey also found that only 29% of smartphone users backup their data and that only 22% of smartphones are running software that can locate the device if it goes missing. Also, with smartphone viruses and malware growing significantly as a threat, only 14% of smartphone users have installed antivirus software on their device.