Check your pockets!
More than 17,000 USB sticks were left behind in dry cleaners and launderettes in the UK during 2010, according to a new survey.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the research was commissioned by a data security firm, but the figure is impressive nonetheless!
According to Credant Technologies, the number of USB sticks left behind at the shops increased 400 percent from 2009 levels. Over 500 dry cleaners up and down the country participated in the survey.
"The numbers of USB sticks forgotten in trousers and shirt pockets is staggering and is a direct result of growth in ‘IT consumerisation,' as consumers today carry more and more mobile devices than ever before, such as smart phones, laptops, iPads, USB sticks and other portable devices," said Sean Glynn, VP of marketing at Credant Technologies.
"Inevitably, unsuspecting consumers leave the USB sticks behind, creating a potential risk for their employers if these devices have proprietary information on them and end up in the hands of criminals," he added.
The firm said ‘IT consumerisation' refers to the increasing uptake of personal consumer electronics and web services in an enterprise environment, including mobile devices that store personal and private data.
As USBs are perhaps the cheapest way of storing data and among the easiest to lose, with thousands lost in dry cleaners the mind boggles as to how many are left languishing elsewhere, many of which could have valuable corporate data on them, which Credant said poses a potential security threat to organisations.
The firm reckons that companies and local authorities could save money just by tightening up the security of some cheap personal storage devices used by employees, (no doubt by picking one if its handy solutions!).
It noted that the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which has the power to hand out £500,000 fines for breached of the data Protection Act (DPA) has handed out 2 fines to Ealing Council and Hounslow Council in February alone, for £80,000 and £70,000 respectively.
"The public sector is looking to make savings of £81billion over the next four years, and at the very least, this could be one way to make up some of the deficit," said Glynn.