With countless smartphones, tablets and other gadgets having appeared under Christmas trees, now is a good time for their new owners to think about what happens if they were to lose their new gadgets and how to protect the data they store on their devices.

AVG’s latest research* called Lost in Transit gives some helpful pointers as to what happens to gadgets and devices once they have been lost or stolen.

Our research, carried out by Research Now, questioned 5,000 people in 11 countries and looks at how people lose their gadgets. It reveals that smartphone theft is more frequently opportunistic, with thieves taking the phones while owners aren’t paying attention.

But when a thief does get their hands on your smartphone they are most likely to simply sell it on.

The story for tablets however is different. Unlike smartphones, tablets are still relatively new and have a novelty factor that phones don’t.

As a result, if someone gets their hands on your tablet the chances of them having a good look through it, accessing your data and using it is 28%, compared with just 9% for smartphones and 13% for laptops.

Once thieves do start accessing the data on your device, the consequences can be unpleasant.

Our research shows that in four in 10 (41%) cases where the data on a device was used against the owner, personal information was accessed.

In over one in three (36%) instances, bank details were stolen, while 37% had their passwords stolen.

Most worryingly, if they are able to, a lot of thieves will even post from your social media profiles. Where the thieves accessed and used the data, 39% of victims fell victim to social media status-jacking.

 

So what can you do about it?

 

  • Password protect your devices
  • Install software on your mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), this will not only protect against viruses, but will help you locate it if you lose it and protect the data. See AVG Mobilation below.
  • Try storing your phone in the same safe place. Always use that place, so you know where to check for it easily.
  • Check cabs and trains before you leave. Lots of devices are unwittingly left in cabs and trains making easy pickings for thieves.

 

Device owners need to take these steps now. The alternative could be both a significant loss both in terms of time and money.

To protect your devices download AVG Mobilation software (http://www.avgmobilation.com/). It will not only keep your device safe by scanning and removing viruses with a simple click, if your device does get lost or stolen, you can track it via the device’s GPS and if necessary either lock it or wipe it completely.

*Research Now surveyed 5620 participants on AVG’s behalf in UK, USA, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Czech Republic and Japan. Research conducted in November 2011.