Your Mobile Device – Friend or Foe?
By Rick Kam - Article on June 13, 2012
I was at a risk summit meeting a couple of weeks ago and heard David Allen, Chief Technology Officer of Loc-aid.com talk about how people's attitudes and behavior had changed over the past few years with regards to their mobile phone. What he said was:
“People will more likely turn around and return home to get their mobile phone than their wallet if they happened to forget it”.
I thought about his statement and believe it to be true. I have tested this by telling the David's story and seeing what my friends and family would do if they forgot their phone at home.
First let me start with a little background. One of the many capabilities of mobile devices today is called “GeoLocation” which is the ability to determine where the device is. A mobile device can be located to within a few feet of its physical location pretty much anywhere on earth. The fact that over 230 million Americans have mobile phones that they always carry with them along with GeoLocation, brings both opportunity for new uses and also risks.
Friend or Foe?
So let's talk about some of the really cool friendly things GeoLocation can help with. Have you ever misplaced your mobile phone? Many of us do, some more frequently than others. One of the great applications that exist today is on that finds your mobile phone and shows you on a map where it is. You can see whether you left your mobile phone at a restaurant or friends house or if it is somewhere nearby, like under the couch in the living room of your home. If you think about that fact that emergency services often will try to find lost or missing persons by trying to locate the geolocation of their mobile phone adds another significant benefit to this technology. There have been many stories in the news lately about how people lost in the mountains or on a trail were found this way.
Another great use of geolocation is being able to use your mobile device for authentication and authorization to use applications. These applications could be more familiar to you like performing an online banking transaction where the bank wants to send you a special code to your mobile phone to approve a money transfer. Or it could be something new like being able to place a bet in a Las Vegas casino using your mobile phone at the pool. Your mobile device would first check to see that the you and your mobile phone were actually in Nevada while placing the bet to ensure it was legal.
The flipside to these benefits and a significant risk is what happens if/when your mobile device is lost or stolen and used as your credentials to access your online banking account or your electronic systems at work. Criminals could pretend to be you if they had your mobile phone along with some of your identity (i.e. name, passwords, phone book, etc.).
How do you protect yourself against the risks? Thirteen experts weigh-in on ways to protect your mobile device at work and at play.