A potential solution to rising smartphone theft is still a year away
It's easy to take for granted how much your smartphone is worth. You may have picked one up for free or not much more than that by agreeing to lock yourself into a two-year service agreement with a wireless carrier, but despite the subsidized price you paid, smartphones are worth several hundred dollars. It's no wonder that thieves stole around 3.1 million smartphones in U.S. last year.
That figure comes from Consumer Reports, which notes that it's nearly double the 1.6 million smartphones that were stolen in 2012. In addition to thievery, another 1.4 million smartphones were simply lost and never recovered last year, up from 1.2 million in 2012.
It's not just the hardware itself that's valuable, but what's kept on the phone as well. Things like photos, videos, contacts, email accounts, and more. Despite all this, smartphone owners aren't doing enough to protect themselves, Consumer Reports says.
In a survey of smartphone owners, 34 percent told Consumer Reports they don't take even simple security measures, such as using a PIN or some other form of unlocking mechanism. Those same users said they're not running AV software or backing up their data.
Come July 2015, smartphones sold in the U.S. will include a so-called "lock switch," which allows users to remotely delete data from a lost or stolen smartphone. The lock switch will also render the phone useless, as wireless carriers won't activate a device that's been reported lost or stolen. Whether this will actually curb smartphone theft is something that remains to be seen.