Author: Kevin Phillips
Wearable technology could keep your digital information safer
Do you remember the incinerator? I recall the excitement as a boy when my father lit a fire in that strange dustbin-with-a-chimney at the bottom of the garden stuffed full of leaves. The scrunched up paper at the bottom soon took to flame, along with the garden waste inside. Aside from the smoke causing pollution and spoiling the neighbours’ washing hanging out to dry it was a good way to get rid of waste paper, including personal information on letters and statements that were no longer wanted. Those days are pretty much gone, but the need to destroy personal data, however it is stored, has never been more important.
For me, the paper shredder has taken the place of the bonfire, as has the decision to take up electronic statements from as many banking and utility providers as possible. Thankfully this means I have minimised the amount of effort I need to put in to protecting myself from identity theft… or so it was I thought!
I don’t doubt that most of you take reasonable precaution when that old PC or laptop at home finally reaches end of life: you might format the hard disk and/or smash it with a hammer and spike before taking the whole thing off for recycling. You might be a little less heavy-handed if you are passing it on; however you’ve probably done enough to keep your personal data away from the layman fraudster. But what about your old mobile phone… did you think of that? I bet you just passed it on or traded it in for the latest model without even thinking. I’m going to have to admit I did just that with my old iPod Touch; off it went via eBay to who-knows-where. Yes, I deleted my email account and cleared the browser favourites, but these days that is just not good enough.
Organised crime is just as capable of reading the footprint data left behind on a smartphone as it is on a hard disk. Then the thought came to me: where exactly is my data? Well, it is out there somewhere. I am lucky as I didn’t use it for digital banking or managing my secure accounts. Not so for my latest phone and tablet devices though; they are riddled with secure information. No doubt your devices are similarly loaded with personal data. That’s not all; it is not going to stop with hand-held gadgets. Now we have wearable technology… glasses and watches, and then what… clothing? jewellery? We will use them all; load them with apps, accounts, passwords, without thinking about it. What are we going to do with it all? Soon we’ll be wearing data as well as carrying it around in our pockets. Smaller, lighter and easier to lose… along with our personal information. Not only could someone else be carrying around my data, they could soon be wearing it!
So, are you ready to handle the risk? Do you know how to clean up a smartphone before handing it on? Are your financial service providers ensuring that the apps you use so freely are properly secure? What more should we, and they, be doing to keep our digital identities secure?