In this month's issue of the SANS Institutes "Securing the Human" newsletter, the topic was lost and stolen cell phones. In the section on what to do if your cell phone is lost or stolen, it included this:
If you installed tracking software on your mobile device, you will most likely have the option to wipe your data. Wiping the device will erase all of your personal information from the device and eliminate the risk of your data being accessed. If your device was stolen, you may want to contact law enforcement before wiping the device and notify them that you have enabled location tracking on the device. If stolen, you should not attempt to recover your device yourself.
Personally, I don't own a smart phone because I'm paranoid. My cell makes phone calls, and that's it. I don't browse the web, and the only secure info in it is my contacts. Not that this is relevant to the question, but I include it to confess that I'm woefully ignorant in how tracking/wiping software works.
At any rate, if someone nefarious were to steal or find a lost or stolen smart-phone, wouldn't one of the first steps they'd take be to find and uninstall such software? Or is it not that easy? I'm sure it's different between the Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Phones, and any others I may have missed,
But even so, I'd think a determined attacker, one who knows what he's doing would first disable such software, making such advice useless only if a clueless bad guy found or stole your mobile device.
So, basic question: How accurate is the advice? Is wiping a phone really a protection, or just another bit of advice that's better than nothing, but gives people a false sense of security?