40% of mobile devices left at airports this summer will never be reclaimed

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A survey into Mobile Device Security at Airports shows Brits are lackadaisical when it comes to losing mobile devices compared to many of their counterparts around the globe!   

Travellers will be returning from their vacations this summer, without their mobile phone or laptop because they lost it whilst travelling at a busy British airport.  But they dont care, because according to the findings of a survey released today by Pointsec Mobile Technologies between 40-50% of people cant be bothered trekking to the lost property office of a hectic airport to reclaim their mobile phone, laptop or PDA - theyd prefer to claim from their insurance company or let their company provide them with a new upgraded version and enjoy their trip instead.  However, there is a security risk attached to not claiming your mobile device.  After 3 months they are auctioned by the airport and with 1 in 4 having no security on them (according to the lost property office) they could become a potential security risk to the owner or their company!

This isnt the case when it came to our European counterparts who were all keen to collect their laptops. However, they were in many cases also pretty carefree when it came to trying to trace their mobile phones. 

In Sweden 100% of laptops were reclaimed, except at their main airport at Arlanda where 75% were claimed.  However, people in Sweden were far more lax about reclaiming their mobile phone with 60% on average being collected with just 30% collected at Arlanda airport.

The Norwegians were carefree when it came to trying to retrieve their mobile phones at Oslos main airport with a tiny minority of just 10% going to collect their phones from the lost property office. However they were far more vigilant when it came to reclaiming their laptops with 95% being reclaimed.

The Australians were also pretty keen to reclaim their laptops with an almost 100% reclaim rate in the four airports which were surveyed. But bizarrely in Brisbane, of the mobile phones that are handed in every week, absolutely none have been reclaimed. 

It comes as no surprise that in the Finland, the land of the mobile phone, just over half of people bothered to reclaim their mobile phone but 91% reclaimed their laptops. 

One in Four have no security on them!

The survey into Mobile Device Security at Airports found that of the mobile devices that were handed into the lost property office in airports around the UK, one in four mobile phones or laptops had absolutely no security on them, with the staff being able to switch them on and start them up.   

Peter Larsson, CEO for Pointsec, said Often people do not realise how valuable their information can be to others such as hackers, competitors or thieves.  Most people keep personal and customer details on their mobile devices and in our experience its when these contact details go missing that people and their companies really begin to worry. 

Mobile devices are cheap these days, so people cant be bothered to reclaim them, as they know their company will probably give them a new, more fancy upgrade. Therefore its far more important for the company to protect the information and make it a mandatory procedure to have encryption on all mobile devices and individuals too should always use passwords and try and encrypt the data if its sensitive.

Larsson continued With ID theft at an all time high with an estimated 100,000 people a year affected costing in the region of 1.7 billion in the UK alone - those people who do lose a mobile device at an airport should think twice about whether they should take the time to reclaim it, otherwise it will be auctioned with the contents freely available to whoever buys it at a public auction!

Unclaimed mobile devices auctioned after 3 months

Heathrow airport alone has around 5 laptops and 10 mobile phones handed in everyday with just 60% being reclaimed the rest go to local auction houses after 3 months.  This means that Heathrow airport auction around 730 lost laptops every year and 1460 mobile phones!  So if you want a cheap mobile phone or laptop you know where to go to pick one up at a knock-down second hand price!    

When Pointsecs researcher phoned the lost property office at Londons Heathrow airport they said that there had been a dramatic increase in the number of lost laptops since BAA had stepped up security. People now have to take their laptop out of their bags and turn them on to ensure they are not a security risk.  It is then that people seem to leave their laptop behind in the security area of the departure lounge.

Pointsecs advice to people who travel with mobile devices is that if they are not secured with encryption or strong passwords and they have sensitive information that could be used by someone, you must make the effort to reclaim them.  For people who encrypt their mobile device they need only worry about the cost of the lost device and not the data residing on it because once encrypted no one can get at the information.

If you want to ensure your information stays secure whilst on the move Pointsec Mobile Technologies suggests you follow these few simple steps. If your mobile device contains any sensitive information that you want to keep to yourself, use hard disk encryption this protects the information during the laptops life and beyond its active service. 

  1. Always set the policies enforceable using strong passwords with a combination of letters and numbers or even better using symbols to reduce the risk of passwords being recorded on the laptop, or worse still written on a sticker stuck on the inside of the device.  
  2. If the laptop is owned by the company deploy security on the device and centrally manage it.  
  3. Be vigilant when travelling!  Be prepared that they will get lost, statistics show they probably will so why not write pop up messages on the screen with contact details which offers a reward if it is found. 
  4. Ensure you have a working back up policy

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