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Christmas travel chaos to claim tech casualties

by Sarah Griffiths on 20 December 2010, 11:52

Tags: General Business

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Tis the season

As 4 million Brits make the long and snowy journey home for Christmas, lost property offices in UK airports are expected to be as busy as Santa's elves with scores of unsecured phones and laptops expected to be lost in the festive rush.

With some 5,100 mobiles and 3,844 laptops lost at 15 of the UK's airports so far this year, the numbers are set to rocket over the busy holiday peak season, according to telephone interviews with the lost property departs of the airports.

While the figures might seem high, they are thought to be just the tip of the iceberg as people inevitably have their phones stolen or some lost items are kept by ‘lucky' owners. With flights delayed and cancelled and some unlucky souls having to kip in chilly terminals, one could suppose the number of lost technical devices could be even higher this year.

Data protection firm Credant Technologies warned that most lost phones and laptops are not claimed by their rightful owners and are either sold on at auction or given to charities, so could still contain private and potentially useful information belonging to their former owner.

Despite the excitement of forthcoming festivities, the firm has urged travelers to take special care of their tasty technology this Christmas, especially when passing through the security check point at airports, as this is where Luton Airport reckons is the most common place that phones and laptops are forgotten because of the many distractions and the pressure to make a flight on time.

Credant Technologies reckons travelers who have boarded a plane before realising they've left their phone or laptop behind, do not bother to get it back as it's often really expensive to return a device and they can often claim on their insurance.

However, Seán Glynn, VP at Credant Technologies said the value of lost technology should be the last thing individuals and organizations should worry about.

"What is much more concerning are the copious volumes of sensitive data these devices contain - often unsecured and easily accessed. Without protecting mobile phones, laptops and even USBs with something even as basic as a password, a malicious third party can have easy access to the corporate network, email accounts and all the files stored on the device including the contact lists. Users also store such things as passwords, bank details and other personal information on the device making it child's play to impersonate the user and steal their identity - both personal and corporate," he said. 

The firm recommends that smartphone and laptop owners protect their machines with strong passwords, preferably encrypt them, do not choose to let passwords pop up on any sites or corporate log-ins automatically, plus back -up and remove any sensitive info.

It also suggests not leaving Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on and unsecured, deleting any unneeded texts and emails- especially password emails, PINs and back account details, plus putting contact details on the devices so it can be easily returned.

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