Issuu on Google+

Harshal Pushkarna

Why are smart phone users at the risk of identity theft? Modern mobile phones are gradually assuming the form of mini computers. They come equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities. If such a versatile phone changes hands through sale or if some thief flicks it, imagine the jackpot of confidential personal data that can fall into the hands of an unscrupulous person

L ittle had the inventor of mobile phone imagined that within a few years the handset, which he had in vented to proffer to the telephone users the advantages and convenience of wireless telephony would evolve into an extremely useful gadget on one hand and an equally annoying one on the other! Looking back , the event which can be held responsible for sprouting the seed of nuisance in the mobile phone, was quite an innocuous one in the present day technological contex t . A s the mobile phone networks went on line one after another, the engineers found that some bandwidth allocated for con veying micr owave signals o f telephonic conversations remained ‘unutilised’. Then they found a way of putting his idle ‘blank’ portion to some pr actical use i.e. ac commodating short textual messages. During their working

hours , engineers of the c ompany s t a r ted communicating amongst themselves through short messages. The cell phone companies saw in this spare bandwidth an additional source of revenue and opened up SMS/Short Mess age Service facility for the customers. There were some other advantages too, such

Safari August, 2011 19

Mobile phone identity theft as the digital signals of messages were not occupying much bandwidth of the company’s microwave band. Secondly, short mess age s could be put on waiting list for a minute or two if the bandwidth had become congested because real time transmission like the oral communications was not essential in case of messages. Cell phone owners started using SMS facility extensively because it was much cheaper than the cos t of telephone call. As the microchip which plays key role in mobile phone’s digital pr ocessing and in dat a sto rage gradually became more and more efficien t as wel l as cheaper and cheaper, short me ssage s started becoming longer and longer. Soon, the capacity of chip became so enhanced that in addition to tremendous data comprising of oral communications and short messages, the chip started handling MMS/ Multimedia Messaging Service. The electronic experts who had prophesied that different types of facilities in the field of information technology will ultimately converge in the computer were proved wrong. By then the mobile phone had broken the monopoly of computer in various applications ranging from E-mail and In ternet t o Electronic banking.

Modern features like mobile office have made the cell phone work like a mini computer

20 Safari

In fact, mobile phone started playing the role of a computer on an ever increasing scale. Together with the increase in versatility of mobile phones, the potential for their misuse also started growing but few persons, if any, realised it at that time. Let alone ordinary mobile phone users, even the experts had not grasped full scope of risks involved. Most of the ordinary mobile phone users are likely to be blissfully ignorant that their latest model cell phone is a double-edged sword unless they have experienced the costly consequences of its loss or theft or still worse, the misuse of their identity by some unscrupulous imposter. This is a serious matter and the basic difference between the mobile phone and the computer is responsible for it. A personal computer is merely personal but mobile phone is extremely ‘portable’ in addition to being personal. During its infancy when mobile phone weighed as much as 2.25 kilograms, its mobility was as a motor car-borne telephone and not like the present day phone which can be easily carried in the shirt’s pocket. No doubt, early mobile phone was personal like a PC but not portable in the sense of today’s mobile. Mobile phone became ‘easily’ portable for the first time in 1983 when Motorola started marketing its 785-gram handset. Nowadays most of the mobile phones weigh less than

Motorola Company’s 1983 model phone was the first-ever ‘mobile’ in true sense of the word

100 grams. Surprising as it may appear, the mobile phone’s light weight itself is a big problem! A desktop computer is not easy to steal and is impossible to

August, 2011


Why are smart phone users at the risk of identity theft?