Ever experienced that awful sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and panic of reaching into your bag for your laptop or phone and finding nothing but empty space? Your mind starts racing immediately: Did I leave it at the office? Is it at home plugged into the charger? Is one of my coworkers a secret kleptomaniac? Nine times out of 10, you find your laptop or phone and all that speculation proves to be baseless. But sometimes it doesn’t turn up so easily, leaving you to worry about all of your personal information, photos and passwords falling into unscrupulous hands, not to mention the considerable cost of replacing the devices themselves.
Think about all of the time, effort and hassle one has to go through when it does happen. Aside from filing the police reports, you have to change all of your online passwords; alert your bank and other financial institutions of the theft and the fact that the financial information stored on your mobile device may have been compromised; alert your company IT Department to the theft and the fact that confidential company information may have been compromised; put a credit freeze on your credit cards; close and reopen new bank accounts; and worry where those family photos you had stored in there might end up as well as find and purchase a new device! Each of these actions leads to a chain reaction of events and people in various organisations chasing down your data before it can be used against you or your company. Hundreds of man-hours are burned and hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars lost and often the only thing gained is a few new grey hairs.
The statistics are worrisome. According to the 2010 BSI Computer Theft Study:
- Over 5.5M computers were reported stolen in the US in the last three years.
- Laptops comprised more than two thirds (68%) of those devices reported stolen, followed by desktop computers (10%) and smartphones (iPods, iPhones, etc.) (22%).
- According to the FBI, only 3% of unprotected devices (those not using a tracking and recovery software) are ever recovered.
These trends are consistent with previous surveys, indicating that people are not protecting their devices any more today than they did about six years ago. The technologies for preventing theft are readily available and are advancing, but people are not putting them to use.
With stats like these, companies like Apple are making tracking and recovery technology native in their devices and other companies are following suit or making solutions readily available for download. The Android Market and the iTunes App Store offer dozens of different apps for recovering mobile devices.
Software solutions like GadgetTrak, Orbicule, Front Door Software, Hidden and Beyond Encryption are just a few that depend on technology from Skyhook to track and recover their customers’ mobile devices. Skyhook offers a software-only location system based on triangulation of GPS, cell tower and Wi-Fi positioning to determine the location of a lost or stolen mobile device within 10 – 20 meters of accuracy. Here are just a few device recovery successes from our customer, GadgetTrak: http://gadgettrak.com/recoveries/.
The annual cost for these types of solutions are a small price to pay for the peace of mind offered when you never again have to worry about where you left your device. The worry of your personal data being compromised, the price of your privacy being invaded and the intrusion of trust would all disappear, knowing that you are protected. It’s like an insurance policy for your mobile life or like having St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost and stolen things, as your own personal guardian angel.
The features offered in each of the apps and software solutions vary. Some offer remote camera enablement so you can capture photos of the thief, remote alarm enablement to sound a loud noise in order to startle the thief or attract attention, or remote locking and deleting capabilities so you can block access to your personal data before any damage can be done by potential identity thieves. Some even offer an automatic reporting capability that files a theft report with local law enforcement. Each one offers a way to pinpoint the location of your device with varying degrees of accuracy using GPS, or in the case of solutions using Skyhook, a triangulation of GPS cell tower and Wi-Fi.
The technology isn’t just limited to laptops and phones either. There are solutions available to track and recover your car keys, wallet, pets, even your kids! Imagine a world where you never have to worry about losing anything, a world that puts St. Anthony on a permanent vacation.
Tracking and recovery solutions give you the opportunity not only to protect your devices and data, but also to recover them in the case of theft or loss. This provides you with peace of mind not only in the worst-case scenario, but day-to-day as you go about your busy day or travel the world. You can take your devices more places and handle sensitive information with less concern than ever before as your data is protected no matter where your device is—or whose hands it is in. I think St. Anthony would certainly approve.