These days we really do rely on our mobile phones and it is quite scary to think how much your phone knows about you, where you have been and who you have seen. It even knows some of your favourite hobbies, interests and activities. It is in essence your digital brain! What would you do without it?
Mobile phones have moved on an incredible amount over the past 30 years, from a device that is clunky and cumbersome to small, light incredibly fast computers that fit in our pockets and handbags. We connect other devices to them such as our fitness trackers, smartwatches, children’s toys and much more. They are the central hub of our daily lives. As such they collect a massive amount of data about us. Some of which is passed on to the applications that we use and some just sits idle on the phone. Then there is some data that goes back to the carrier as well and some that is collected by the sites that we browse. They are complicated little devices and often we forget just how valuable that data is to us until we lose or break our phone.
A couple of weeks back I wrote a piece on how you can find your phone using the data stored online about you that relates to your phone and it’s location. This week I thought we would look more at just what data there is on these devices and why it is important to secure and back up your phone and it’s content.
Most mobile phones these days have the option for you to store a copy of your photo’s and contacts in the cloud. This means that every new contact and photo is saved both on your phone and somewhere on the internet. The chance of losing this data is low unless of course you haven’t set your phone up to do that. It is one of the first things I set up whenever I get a new phone and I would recommend that if you haven’t done this already then do it as it is a life saver when your phone is damaged or lost as you still have all your contacts and those precious pictures of friends and family.
The next thing that I always set up is a way to secure my phone so that if I lose it someone else can’t just use my phone, run up a massive bill and cause all sorts of trouble. I have heard too many friends lose their phones abroad and because it is abroad they are still liable for the call charges made. Put a pin on it and it is at least a deterrent. You can also turn on phone tracking and remote wipe which take that process one step further. The only issue with these is that you need to have GPS turned on and this can be a bit of a battery drain. You can still find your phone’s last known location through other means so to me this is not essential. Android phones track where you are using a process called triangulation which uses WiFi and cellular data to identify where you were last so I tend to use that as my fallback.
The apps that you have installed on your phone and have paid for are all stored by the app store where you bought them from so these too are recoverable. The data within these apps is stored remotely too by the app creators. As long as you have stored your contacts, pics and videos remotely you should be able to pretty much recreate your device time and time again. This is the beauty of distributed data.
Looking at this another way though all that distributed data is accessible from a single point – your phone. Once someone has that they have access and potentially control of everything. Just bear that in mind the next time you turn your phone on and you haven’t got any security turned on. You are putting your online identity at risk. That digital footprint that we have talked about here on the blog a few times could become compromised if you don’t protect it properly.