Consumer Smartphone Thefts: Why Your Organization Should Pay Attention

By: Absolute Editorial Team | 12/29/2014

A new FCC report by the Technological Advisory Council (TAC) Subcommitte on Mobile Device Theft Prevention (MDTP) shows that mobile phone theft, despite technological improvements and prevention campaigns, still remains critical.

The report looked at the theft of smartphones, trying to gather an aggregate picture of the prevalence of smartphone theft. Consumer Reports estimated that 3.1 million smartphones were stolen in 2013 in the United States. The FCC makes its own estimate on thefts, using data from 21 of the 18,000 US police jurisdictions (a population of 19.7 million out of the 361+ million people in the US) to create an average phone theft rate of 368.9 phone thefts per 100,000 individuals or a total of around 1.2 million smartphone thefts in 2013. Obviously, these two reports used different ways of estimating data that is currently not tracked on a national level and there are many data gaps that could seriously impact each estimation.

Whatever the number is, we agree with the FCC: too many phones are still being stolen. From a corporate perspective, you may dismiss this as largely a consumer concern, but you shouldn’t. If over 1 million smartphones were stolen, how many of those contained corporate data? Even if just 1 of those devices contained data from your organization, you should be concerned.

This report does not estimate whether the devices were corporate-owned, officially supported BYOD devices or employee-owned devices that may contain unsanctioned corporate data or network details (or even duplicate passwords & saved information that could compromise corporate security). The reality is that employees are using their devices for work, sanctioned or not, and that’s a huge risk for corporate data security.

As the FCC laid out in their report, IT managers need to play their part in understanding the impact of mobile theft. Best practices laid out in the report include password-protecting devices, encrypting work data, enabling device tracking, and supplying ongoing employee education on protecting corporate data and preventing mobile theft.

Don’t leave it to your employees to protect your corporate data: set up a simple solution to effectively secure the endpoints and the data they contain. Absolute DDS provides foundational support for all activities related to Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC) for the endpoint. If a devices goes missing, we can help you lock down your data while our team investigates the theft.

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