What would you do if you found a smartphone on the subway or at a coffee shop? If you’re like most Americans, you’d rummage through the phone looking for photos, emails and even private banking information. And the chances are only 50-50 that you would try to return the phone.
Symantec researchers intentionally lost 50 smartphones in cities around the U.S. and in Canada. They were left on newspaper boxes, park benches, elevators and other places that passers-by would quickly spot them. But these weren’t just any phones — they were loaded with tracking and logging software so Symantec employees could physically track them and keep track of everything the finders did with the gadgets.
To spice up the test, the phones had an obvious file named “contacts,” making it easy for any finder to connect with the phone’s rightful owner. But the phones also offered tempting files, with names like “banking information,” and “HR files.”
Some 43 percent of finders clicked on an app labeled “online banking.” And 53 percent clicked on a filed named “HR salaries.” A file named “saved passwords” was opened by 57 percent of finders. Social networking tools and personal e-mail were checked by 60 percent. And a folder labeled “private photos” tempted 72 percent.
Collectively, 89 percent of finders clicked on something they probably shouldn’t have.