Study: Concern over mobile device theft on the rise

A survey indicates more than a quarter of US consumers are more afraid of being mugged for their mobile device than they were a year ago.

Have you ever had a smartphone or tablet stolen? The devices' size and portability makes them prime targets for criminals, and there is a rising trend of people being mugged for their mobile devices. A new study found that consumers are increasingly concerned with the risk of having a mobile device stolen.

In the study conducted by Inhance Technology, a provider of mobile device insurance and protection programs, 27 percent of U.S. consumers reported being more fearful of being mugged for their smartphone or tablet. The results were slightly lower--only 21 percent--for consumers in the United Kingdom.

Smartphones and tablets aren't cheap, so it makes sense to be worried about having a mobile device get lost or stolen. One aspect of the study that stands out, though, is the fact that 77 percent of female respondents, and 72 percent of male respondents actually consider the personal content on the mobile device more valuable than the device itself.

There are tools and services in place to safeguard the device hardware. There has been ongoing debate about installing a "kill switch" feature, which would render a lost or stolen device completely inoperable. With iOS 7, Apple added a similar feature called Activation Lock that ties the hardware to the owner's Apple ID. In addition, most major wireless providers offer some sort of device protection plan that will replace a lost or stolen device.

None of those features or services, however, will get your personal content back. Paul Prendergast, CEO of Inhance Technology, said in a statement, "Today's smart consumer wants a device protection policy that will not only replace the device if lost, stolen or damaged but protect the sensitive and valuable data contained in smartphones and tablets."

According to the Inhance Technology survey, more than half of U.S. consumers would be more likely to pay for a mobile device protection service if it includes an app that can protect the personal content on the device as well. Remotely locking or wiping the device can prevent the personal content from being accessed by the thief, but it won't get it back for you.

What users need are tools and services that ensure personal content is backed up either on a PC or in a cloud-based service so it can be recovered and restored on a new device if the smartphone or tablet is stolen.

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