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iPhones May Put Personal Information At Risk

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(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

MIAMI (CBS4)- The iPhone has revolutionized modern technology. But some say it’s an open door for dark forces to do their worst.

The iPhone is essentially a little computer in our hand. iPhones let users talk, watch, read, broadcast live, even measure the air pollution and their own heart rate.

Most owners can’t live without it.

But all that personal information doesn’t just disappear when you disconnect, and that puts consumers in danger.

Maria Avila said she upgraded her phone at the Apple store but ended up with another woman’s information.

Avila essentially received a copy of Marlene Hepner’s cell phone.

Avila contacted Hepner and informed her of the incident.

“Maria’s nice,” Hepner said. “She called me and said there’s a problem. But what if it had been someone else? What if there is someone else out there?” asked Hepner.

The phone contained photos of Hepner’s husband in Vegas.

“We went on a trip,” Hepner said. “That’s my niece at Christmas time.”

CNET Editor Brian Cooley said users have to be careful with their information.

“Internet-connected technology in particular is moving so fast, we don’t know what the baseline is yet,” Cooley said. “We don’t know where information created and stored today is going to be used or exposed tomorrow.

He said what makes iPhones so efficient is what leaves consumers exposed.

For example, that auto correct keystroke mechanism that finishes words may not be the best function for consumers. That’s because the phone is actually capturing information, typing in a credit card number.

That number is a series of keystrokes now saved even if you delete the Web page or email.

The phone even saves the images of maps users recently looked up.

“So the photos you take with it are often geo-tagged for location and with other identifying information attached to them. The downside is yes, lots of your fingerprints, if you will, lots of the traces of your life and behavior are going into every device you touch that is connected in any way to the Internet. It’s just part of the DNA of connective technology today,” added Cooley.

So how easy is this for criminals to get a hold of?

“Each and every day as technology advances so do criminals,” said Steve Bullet, a special agent with the Secret Service.

He said their high-tech investigators have to stay on top of the newest technologies to stay ahead of the criminals.

“Law enforcement always has to play catch up,” Bullet said. “Remember these criminals are trying 24-hours a day to sabotage your information. So as technology advances so do they.”

Nevertheless, researchers expect sales of the smart phone, including the iPhone, to exceed personal computer sales in 2012.

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