When reading the book, "Here Comes Everybody, by Clay Sharky", the first chapter starts off with the story of a Stolen Sidekick cell phone. A woman, Ivanna, lost her phone and a girl by the name of Sasha found the phone and started to use the phone for her own personal use. When Ivanna bought a new phone, all of the information from the lost phone was transferred to her new phone since her cell phone company stored all of her information on their servers. This included all of the recent phone calls made, e-mails sent and pictures taken by Sasha with the stolen Sidekick cell phone.
Ivanna was able to get Sasha's contact information from an e-mail that was sent by Sasha from the stolen phone. When Ivanna contacted Sasha about returning the stolen phone, Sasha refused to return it. Eventually, Ivanna got her stolen cell phone back from Sasha which involved help from a friend and the authorities. The details of how the phone was returned is not important. The question to ask is what if Ivanna had sensitive information on her stolen phone like credit card numbers? Or what if Sasha used Ivanna's phone to prank call or spam the people on her cell phone's contact list? What if Sasha stole Ivanna's identity?
If Ivanna had a password on her phone and immediately had her cell phone provider turn off the service on her stolen phone, then Sasha could not have used the phone which means that Ivanna would have never been able to get her stolen phone back. The benefit to this would be that Sasha would not have access to Ivanna's contact list, pictures, e-mails or any other sensitive information on Ivanna's phone.
Another Example of a cell phone getting compromised is Paris Hilton, who could of had the information on her cell phone stolen in several different ways. According to msnbc.com, a hacker by the name of Jacobsen, hacked a T-mobile server and was able to access Paris Hilton including other celebrities cell phone contacts and e-mails. Some of these e-mails contained pictures of different celebrities which Paris took using her built in camera on her Sidekick mobile phone. He then posted all of this information on the internet until authorities finally caught him and had the information removed.
The other way her information could of been compromised, according to T-mobile, was the weak password question and answers she used for recovering her password. When you reset or recover a password on a T-mobile phone, you have to enter in your cell phone number, username and answer the security question that was created. Then T-mobile allows you to reset your password. The issue here is that if this information is stolen or compromised then resetting the password is way too easy. If the forgotten password or reset link was e-mailed, then this would add another layer of security and possibly stop an account from being exploited. The connection to make between these two stories is the concern of having personal information stored on a cell phone and on a cellular provider's server. The question is how vulnerable is our cellular information and is it safe to store it on a cellular providers server?
T-mobile offers a service called MobileLife which will store all of your contacts information which includes names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, photos, etc. This information is then accessible through T-mobile's website or the account holder's cell phone. So when Ivanna received her new cell phone, the pictures and contacts were loaded back onto the new phone because of the MobileLife service. The danger of this is that having this information online can easily be compromised if a person's password or cell phone is stolen. Is it safe to trust services like MobileLife, if the security measures in place can easily be compromised? Is it safe or secure to have a cell phone company store a person's private information on their servers?
So are cell phones secure or do they allow for people's privacy to be compromised?
If several different layers of security are used, then gaining access to a person's information on their cell phone is very hard to do. Using strong passwords, reporting a lost or stolen phone, and not giving out your passwords, are just a few of the ways a person can keep their cell phone information secure (Information Services and Technology, IST, has some great tips on how to keep a cell phone secure). As long as basic security measures or practices are put in place, then this will insure a greater chance of a person's personal information being secured on their cell phone.