tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

29Oct/121

Losing My Virtual Wallet

On either my morning or evening train on Monday the 22nd, I put my iPad down and forgot about it.

Realizing this at around 11:30 that night, I panicked. I felt violated. Lost. Worried. Scared. Despite what you may think of me as an Apple fanboy, this had nothing to do with some addiction to the device. If I'm to be honest, there's nothing I do on my iPad that cannot be done on my phone, albeit not always as well. 

What worried me most about it was my data. The iPad held many apps that automatically logged into things. It held some of my photos and many of my emails, not to mention access to my Twitter, Facebook, Gmail and even some work systems. After a few minutes of debating, I used Find My iPhone (really should be called Find My Apple Device) to send a remote erase command. The next time my iPad connects to the internet, it will be erased.

I realized too much was at stake, in my mind, to justify the chance it might come online and I'd be able to track it via the GPS. I was too worried about someone using that data to harass or attack me or the people I love. It felt like losing my virtual wallet or purse; so many personal things were in there. I've spent the last few days concocting ways someone malicious could use that data, the various ways they could keep my iPad off the internet and still use what was there. A colleague at worked joke there usually aren't too many evil tech geniuses on the train, "except you, of course," she said with a grin. And realistically I think if my iPad did fall into evil hands, I would have seen SOME fingerprints on my accounts. Weird accesses. Emails accidentally read. Something like that.

Since Monday at 11:53pm it has not come online, which means it's either in a place without cell service, it's been turned off since then, it's been wiped and has moved on or it's been switched to Airplane Mode and some evil genius is browsing what's cached and turned it to Airplane so as not to delete it and is monitoring my Twitter and blog (hi, EG). Honestly, any of them except the latter is kind of okay. It's an expensive device, that I'd very much like to get back, but I could never lived with myself if someone used my data maliciously to harm others. Keeping that from happening is worth the money.

It was interesting, going through and changing every password, thinking of all the things that are connected to that iPad, the things that are linked together, the things that work without an internet connection. I've done that and, as far as I can tell, there was no penetration of any of my accounts. 

It may still turn up. I contacted GO Transit, the system on which I lost it, who told me their standard procedure is to turn the device off when they find it and ship it to a central lost and found, who then turn it back on and try to identify the owner. They also said it often takes a few days for things to get to the central lost and found, so I am holding out hope for that. The fact that it hasn't turned on, not even once, since then is a good sign that some kind soul may have turned it in.

I have learned my lesson, though. My iPhone is locked down tighter than a drum now, and if I get that iPad back (or purchase a new one) it will be again. The cloud services are kind of double edged swords; I lost no data, but I'm constantly worried it fell into another's hands.

Ah well. Life goes on.

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  1. Ahhh, so sorry this happened Tom! I’ve never had the experience of losing my wallet or purse or phone or anything like that, but from your post I can just picture the panic. Such a bummer!


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