Twenty Android mobile phones were intentionally lost in The Lost Phones social experiment that Avast security analysts ran for 5 months.
The story is about how Avast Anti-Theft was able to track the phones and follow the journey that some of them took after being found. But four of those phones were returned to Avast because of good Samaritans who didn’t feel it was right to keep them.
We spoke to two of them; Quiana W., who found a phone on a park bench in Harlem, New York City and to Michael D. who found one in a public restroom in San Francisco. We asked what they thought when they first spotted the phones.
Quiana: I wanted to check it to see if it was on and see if I would be able to contact someone to return their phone. I know what it feels like to lose things, wallet or a phone, so I was just trying to pay it forward. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen back to me in this way, but it was just something that kind of took my heart.
Michael: My initial reaction was to leave the phone where it was. It seemed a little suspicious – how could someone not hear the phone drop onto the floor? I also thought that someone might mistake me for a thief if I walked out with the phone. But then, partially out of boredom and partially out of honesty, I decided to play detective and find the phone’s owner.
We trust our free app Avast Anti-Theft to track down lost phones, but we wanted to put it to the test in a real-world situation. So five months ago, we bought 20 Android smartphones and installed three security apps on all the phones: Our free Avast Anti-Theft app, Lookout Mobile Security, and Clean Master. Each phone was marked with contact information on where to return the device if found. After all was prepared, Avast security analysts traveled to New York City and San Francisco to randomly “lose” them in public places.
Here’s a video that shows what happened.
Over the months, the analysts used the Avast Anti-Theft app to track the lost devices and observed the following:
- 15 phones were wiped clean using the factory reset feature
- 11 phones stayed online for more than 24 hours after losing them
- 7 phones we were able to track for several months
- 4 phones were returned
- 4 phones are currently online and used
- 2 phones ended up abroad
- 1 phone was never factory data reset
The majority of lost devices were wiped clean using the factory reset feature, but only the Avast Anti-Theft app survived the factory reset.
You can track your missing mobile phones and tablets with Avast Anti-Theft. Get it for free from the Google Play Store.
That’s what we wanted to find out.
Avast security analysts ran a five-month experiment to “lose” and track 20 mobile phones.
To prepare the phones for the experiment, they activated three security apps: Our own free Avast Anti-Theft, Lookout Mobile Security, and Clean Master. They made sure that each phone was marked with contact information so it could be returned if found. Then, they randomly placed 10 phones around New York City and the other 10 around San Francisco.
It didn’t take long for the phones to be found and tampered with. Fifteen of the 20 phones were wiped clean using the factory reset feature. They only security app that survived the factory reset was Avast Anti-Theft.
That was just what our analysts needed to track the lost devices on their adventures.
And what adventures they had!
On a slow boat to…India?!
One of the phones, lost in Battery Park, New York City, eventually found its way to Mumbai, India. At first, a long, slow journey across the Atlantic Ocean had our analysts baffled, until they theorized that the phone was aboard a transatlantic cargo ship. Read more…
After a long winter, it’s time to throw open the windows and let the fresh air in. But first, you need to do a good Spring Cleaning to wash away the grime that has accumulated. Here’s our favorite tips that go beyond the ordinary vacuum and dust routine. Choose the ones you want to do, and don’t forget that your mobile devices can use a good cleaning too (see tip #10)!
Starting from the top down:
- 1. Dim light fixtures and dull lamps. See the gleam again from your light fixtures. Get a soft microfiber cloth or duster and wipe away dust from ceiling lights, fans, and table lamps. I even use a vacuum attachment on lamp shades.
- 2. Greasy window treatments. Dirt, dust, grease, and bacteria collect on draperies, blinds, verticals, and shades. It is recommended to have your fabric window treatments dry-cleaned every 5-7 years. For metal or plastic blinds, you can take them down and wash them with dishwashing soap in a bucket of water or a solution of half water, half vinegar. Clean wooden blinds with a soft dry cloth wear a pair of cotton gloves or old socks and wipe the slats down.
- 3. Dusty bookshelves. A dusty old library sounds like a romantic notion, but it’s not good in your own home.Working from the top down, remove books and decorative objects from one shelf at a time, dust and return. Maybe you’ll find some old books that are ready to donate while you’re at it.
You walk by it every day:
- 4. Grimy doors, knobs, and handles. Grubby hands and jumping dogs can make your doors pretty awful looking, but because you are walking in and out, you don’t even see the grime. Give knobs and handles a quick wipe down with your favorite cleaner and some paper towels. Make your front door welcoming again by cleaning it inside and out with warm, soapy water. Dry it with a soft cloth.
How does that get there?!
- 5. Crumby kitchen drawers. I can’t ever figure out how the crumbs get in there; but spring cleaning is a good time to remove everything, wipe out the drawers and return only the items you still use.
- 6. Upholstered furniture. After a season of snuggling on the sofa with the dog and a good movie, stick your hand between the cushion and you’ll find old popcorn and plenty of dirt, sticks and leaves. I even found a dead lizard! Get out the vacuum attachments and vacuum upholstered furniture, including under and between cushions. Fluff and rotate cushions and pillows.
- 7. Underneath the rugs. You’ll be surprised what’s under there, so move the furniture off the rug and vacuum underneath. You may want to take your rug outside and give it a good old-fashioned beating too.
- 8. Underneath beds and behind furniture. Dust bunnies as big as the cat are hidden away, so make an extra effort to get the vacuum way up under there. Allergy sufferers have enough to deal with when the pollen comes, so help them out by minimizing dust.
You will feel cleaner, too. Trust me.
- 9. Scummy shower and tub walls. Soap scum builds up after a season of long, hot showers. Choose your favorite cleaning product and leave it on for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing down the tiles.
This is the easiest one!
- 10. Spring Clean your Mobile Devices. We may not be great at washing windows and cleaning floors, but we know how to Spring Clean you Android device! Over time, unnecessary data, system caches, gallery thumbnails, installation files, and residual files can accumulate on your smartphone and tablet. You can regain performance and speed when you clean away all the grime with our free app, Avast GrimeFighter Safe Clean for Android. Install Avast GrimeFighter free from Google Play.
It’s easy and fast to download apps to your smartphone. They do everything from identify a song you just heard to turning your phone into a flashlight. But there are secrets lurking beneath the fun apps. See how knowledgeable you are about the risks associated with free and paid apps for your smartphone. Answer the question, then read on to check if you were right.
1. Which is riskier?
- Free mobile phone apps
- Paid mobile phone apps
If you chose free mobile phone apps, then you are correct. Overall, 83% of the 100 most popular apps are associated with security risks and privacy issues, according to a new analysis by Appthority. The interesting point this study make is that these aren’t just any old apps, these are the games, productivity, and communication tools created by major publishers like Disney, Entertainment Arts, and Rovio. Analysts also found that paid apps aren’t as safe as you think. While 95% of free apps exhibited at least one risky behavior, so did 78% of the top paid apps.
TIP: avast! Free Mobile Security identifies potential privacy risks, by scanning and displaying access rights and the intent of your apps, so you know how much info you are really providing to each app. Read what Consumer Reports says about avast! Free Mobile Security.
2. Which is safer?
- Apple’s mobile ecosystem
- Android’s “open” platform