Your phone has likely become an extension of who you are, and if you ever lose it or have it stolen, you might suffer from Smartphone-Loss Anxiety Disorder, a new term coined by researchers.
Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, say the anxiety is real and the loss of your phone stems from feeling disconnected from the depth of data “assets” that many have entrusted to their phones.
“These assets may include personal and business contacts, private pictures and videos, meeting and lecture notes and the like, banking details, utility statements, company spreadsheets and much more,” researches Zhiling Tu, Yufei Yuan, and Norm Archer write in their paper. “All such assets are potentially sensitive to abuse by third parties.”
Losing your personal and business data can trigger anxiety. But researchers say coping with this anxiety must start before you ever lose your device. They suggest smartphone users get acquainted with security measures to protect against theft or loss. Therefore, the blow of losing your phone may not be as great if it ever does happen.
But researchers found that few participants in their study are aware of “countermeasures” such as remote device locks or “time bomb” data deletion settings that effectively can wipe out everything on the phone before someone manages to break into it.
Too many people, the researchers say, are in denial about ever losing their phone that they fail to investigate phone security measures to protect their information.
In an article published by the International Journal of Mobile Communications, researchers urge an awareness campaign to encourage users to take more steps to secure their phones and protect their data.