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Handhelds Security

'Honey Stick' Project Tracks Fate of Lost Smartphones 222

wiredmikey writes with a quote from an article at Secury Week: "In order to get a look at what happens when a smartphone is lost, Symantec conducted an experiment, called the Honey Stick Project, where 50 fully-charged mobile devices were loaded with fake personal and corporate data and then dropped in publicly accessible spots in five different cities ...Tracking showed that 96-percent of the devices were accessed once found (PDF), and 70-percent of them were accessed for personal and business related applications and information. Less than half of the people who located the intentionally lost devices attempted to locate the owner. Interestingly enough, only two phones were left unaccounted for; the others were all found."
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'Honey Stick' Project Tracks Fate of Lost Smartphones

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  • hehe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:02PM (#39333681)

    Best way to get a phone back. LOUD annoying ringtone.

    Loose that sucker. Call it and call it and call it...

    Eventually "come get your freeking phone it is ringing off the hook with this stupid song"...

    Has worked 3 times so far :)

  • Re:Less than half (Score:5, Informative)

    by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:25PM (#39333897)
    I have found 3 cell phones and have attempted to return them all. On one, the person never returned my calls. I guess they didn't want it back for some reason (it was a throwaway cheap phone). The other two people were extremely happy to get their phone back, and one insisted I take a $50 reward (I settled for $20, since I really didn't want to take anything, but I realized that it made her feel good to give something).
  • Re:Finding a phone (Score:4, Informative)

    by trunicated ( 1272370 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:54PM (#39334165)
    This is why my phone's lockscreen has my email address on it. That way, if somebody wants to return my phone, they have a very easy way to do it (assuming they don't just take it to an AT&T store)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @09:04PM (#39334245)

    Actively is where you are wrong. Stealing is depriving someone of their property (active or not, please look it up). Lost property is still their property.

    If you wish to convert a lost object to be your own, you need to bring the property to the police and allow them to attempt to contact the owner. After a certain mount of time it will be considered abandoned property, at which point the police will give it to you and it really is yours then.

    You absolutely can be charged with theft, and are morally wrong to right away convert it to your own use.

    There are exceptions, for example, in the case of finding it in the garbage, then it is already declared abandoned property.

  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @09:30PM (#39334447) Homepage Journal
    Well, technically, it would be larceny here in the states. In other words, "borrowing" without intent to give back to the owner.
  • Re:Finding a phone (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @10:09PM (#39334695)

    With a lock it was impossible to contact the owner as I couldn't access the phone to try calling a contact.

    The owner of the blackberry you found did not use the "owner" feature of the phone, which lets you set what info should be displayed on the home-screen when the phone is locked.

    If I had wanted to keep it I would have done as a poster above commented and wipe the phone clean.

    Depends on how the phone is reported missing, and how proactive your chosen carrier is about checking.
    Both CDMA [] and GSM [] phones have unique IDs built into them that can be blacklisted by the carrier as "lost/stolen", preventing activation under a different account.
    It's also used by carriers to blacklist subsidized phones on accounts that didn't pay.
    Just adding to the reasons not to buy a phone from eBay.

    Though, there are tools to get around the ID... but I'm not sure how much faith I'd put in them.

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Monday March 12, 2012 @10:15PM (#39334741)

    Hypothetically speaking, because I would try to contact the owner and return it, in a real situation, but...

    If I were going to steal a cell phone, the first thing I would do is pull the battery. The second thing I would do is factory reset it, either by reflashing it from a computer, or from within the phone if it's not locked. The third thing I would do is change the IMEI.

    All of the above are ridiculously easy (well, pulling the battery from an iPhone isn't), and would leave me with a phone that can't be located by you, and which can't be burned by the carrier because it has a different IMEI. Sell it as "off the back of a truck" for a few hundred, and you're done. Rinse. Repeat.

    And if it's a GSM phone, there's no "bringing it in to get activated". Buy a SIM. Put it in. Hey look, it's activated!

  • by type40 ( 310531 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:34AM (#39335657)

    You might want to look at the "Abandoned Property" statutes. Those are the ones that say if you leave a car in my yard, after a while I can keep it.

    Yes, but, you generality are required to make a good faith effort to locate the owner within a certain time frame (check your local listings, Your mileage may very, open to residents of the continental United States only).

    Someone leaves an item at your home. You go, "it's mine now bitch". Original Owner comes to reclaim item within the prescribed time frame. If you don't return it, you are committing a crime.

    You post the item in Craigslist lost & found on a regular basis until the time frame has elapsed and the OO comes to claim it a day late, "Suck it, it's mine now bitch."

  • by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @07:50AM (#39337097) Journal

    While it may be classified as stealing by law, morally it's fine.

    Only if you consider stealing to be morally acceptable.

    Shame morality and the law never seem to match.

    They do, in this case.

    If you find a valuable item which is likely someone else's lost or misplaced property, you're supposed to bring it to a lost property office or to a police station. If it remains unclaimed after some time, it becomes yours. I have done exactly this a couple of times, and in both cases the original owner claimed the property. Clearly, it had been misplaced, not discarded. In one case, the person who reclaimed a wallet which had no identifying material (no credit cards, driving license, etc.) gave a couple of pounds to me as a reward, which was delivered anonymously via the police.

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire