It is best to not keep precious data on your cellphones at all and just use it for making the calls. - Photo by AP

ETTING mugged in Karachi is no strange phenomenon. Sad as it is, armed hold-ups have become so common in the metropolis that we have begun to accept such crimes as if they were a part of our routines, just like buying groceries or paying the bills. It happens in cities across the globe, they say.

Yet a high rate of gun crime is something to be ashamed of, not something to be blasé about.

But getting mugged is not the issue under discussion here. Rather, it is the fact that if your cellphone goes, so does a lot of vital information as well as preclous personal memories.

As a friend related, after his mobile phone was recently snatched at gunpoint, along with a general feeling of being terrorised, for a number of days he felt as if he was cut off from the rest of the world.

This was mainly because he had stored all his contact numbers family, friends, work on his phone memory.

Given our over-dependence on all things digital, he did not bother to keep a hard copy of all the contacts in the form of a phone book.

While it is true that you can keep a back-up of your digital contact liston your computer, how many of us actually bother to do so? If such an unfortunate incident occurs with anyone, and especially if you don't have an actual phone book as opposed to a digital one, the process of rebuilding your contact list can be long and arduous.

But while the loss of contacts can be made up for, what about the precious personal information you have stored on your phone, such as text messages, photos, videos, reminders etc? Even if the stored data isn't of a potentially embarrassing nature, it is quite creepy realisingthe fact that criminals may well be going through all this highly personal information. Perhaps it is best, then, not to save sensitive messages or photographs and delete them or transfer them onto a computer at the first opportunity, as some suggest.

Also, what is disturbing is that the criminals may harass the people on your contact list, especially if you happen to have the numbers of any well-known people on your phone. Even if you don't, the fact that criminals have the numbers of your family and friends is not a comforting thought.

Perhaps until the situation in Karachi improves and crime is drastically brought down (fat chance of that happening until there are sweeping changes in the way this city, especially its police force, is administered) we as citizens must take our own precautions.

As far as contacts are concerned, perhaps it would pay to keep an actual phone/address book. As far as photos and videos are concerned, the best bet is to not keep such data on your cellphones at all and just use the thing for what it was initially meant making calls!-QAM

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