2005-03-03

Pity the Consumer

Reports are now surfacing that, since a number of recent security problems at T-Mobile including the Paris Hilton fiasco, sales of T-Mobile's SideKick are going through the roof.

Excuse me?

Immediately after reading this, during a trip to the men's room, I found someone's PDA. My curious side insisted I at least turn it on long enough to see if there was any password protection or encryption software: there was not. I quickly sent out an APB, and of course left the device off and hidden to protect the owner's privacy, but not all PDA owners are so fortunate.

These two stories illustrate a profound misunderstanding by the general public of what personal security means. Many seem to believe that if your social security card, mother's maiden name, and wallet remain out of reach of thieves, they are safe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Personal data on a PDA, or even moreso on a service where you have no control over its security (like T-Mobile's SideKick), can be all an attacker needs to steal or sell a person's identity. Clearly, a lot of education needs to be done here, before more companies profit from poor security procedures, practices, and technologies that put their customers at risk.

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