Lost smartphone bill as high as $37,000, McAfee says

What would it cost you if you lost your smartphone? How about your tablet or laptop? You might be able to replace the physical device for a few hundred, or a couple thousand, depending on the device–but that only scratches the surface of what may be lost when your smartphone, tablet, or notebook vanishes.

What about your personal photos, vast music library, personal information like bank and investment account data, and other sensitive–or even irreplaceable–data? A new survey from McAfee found that the average value users place on such information is $37,438. In the United States consumers value their ‘digital assets’ at nearly $55,000.
McAfee teamed up with MSI international to survey 3,000 consumers from 10 countries around the world about the digital information and assets on their mobile devices, and their attitudes toward protecting it.

“Most parents wouldn’t dream of leaving a stack of their child’s photos, their family bank statements, online passwords and other personal information just lying around for strangers to sift through,” said Jennifer Jolly, consumer technology expert. “But that’s what you’re risking when you walk around with unprotected smartphones, tablets and other digital devices. Your digital assets are precious, why wouldn’t you safeguard them?”

According to the findings of the survey more than a third of the respondents are not protecting their data on all of their devices, and seven per cent have no security in place at all. The number one reason cited for not protecting data was that respondents just don’t feel it is necessary, followed closely by cost.

The reality, though, is that malware cost consumers $2.3 billion last year, so apparently there is some need to guard against it. When it comes to cost, security tools may cost money but it is significantly less than the $37,000 in digital assets that consumers claim they will lose if a mobile device is lost or stolen.

“Consumers recognize the value of their digital assets. While they are more likely to secure their PCs, they often neglect protection for their other Internet-enabled devices,” said Gary Davis, director of consumer product marketing at McAfee. “It’s like installing an expensive home security alarm on the front door, but leaving the windows and back door wide open. It just takes one open window to allow a virus, hacker, or identity thief to wipe out all the digital assets on any given device, having their personal and financial info compromised as a result.”

In conjunction with this survey, McAfee is also launching a new tool for cross-platform protection. McAfee All Access secures and protects smartphones, tablets, and both Windows and Mac OS X notebooks and PCs.

McAfee All Access costs $99.99 for an individual license, or $149.99 for the household version. The suite of tools guards against malware, protects data, and provides tools to track and locate lost mobile devices, and the ability to remotely lock or wipe data from missing devices.

One drawback for McAfee All Access is that the mobile protection only applies to Android, Symbian, and BlackBerry smartphones and tablets. iOS devices like the Apple iPhone and iPad, and Windows Phone 7 smartphones are not included in the McAfee All Access protection.

If you have Android, Symbian, or BlackBerry mobile devices, though, you should take a look at what McAfee All Access has to offer. You may one day consider it money very well spent when it saves you from losing $37,000 in digital assets.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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