Feeds

Airport crackdown means mountain of unclaimed mobiles

Travellers apathetic about lost kit

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

Two in five mobile devices left at UK airports this summer will never be reclaimed, according to a new survey by mobile security specialists Pointsec.

Many travellers wound up returning from their holiday this summer without their mobile phone or laptop because they lost it while traveling at a busy British airport. However, they either don't know what to do about the loss or can't be bothered to check if their device has been handed in. Between 40 and 50 per cent of lost mobile phones, laptop or PDA devices are left unclaimed at the lost property offices of hectic UK airports.

Heathrow airport alone has about five laptops and 10 mobile phones handed in everyday. Just 60 per cent are reclaimed, with the rest going to local auction houses after three months. Heathrow auctions about 730 lost laptops and 1,460 mobile phones every year.

The airport's lost property staff said there has been a "dramatic increase" in the number of lost laptops since BAA stepped up security in the wake of last month's "liquid bomb" terrorist scare, which has obliged people to transfer laptops onto checked-in baggage.

Gone but not forgotten

It seems that UK travellers would sooner make insurance claims for lost devices or ask their employer or service provider to provide upgrades rather than attempting to resolve the problem themselves.

After three months unclaimed devices are auctioned by the airport, creating a security risk over the exposure of sensitive information that might be left on devices. One in four lost devices are left without any security precautions installed, according to representatives of lost property offices quizzed by Pointsec.

People who encrypt data on their mobile device need only worry about the cost of the lost kit and not the consequences of sensitive data potentially falling into the hands of identity thieves.

Different strokes

Pointsec's survey on Mobile Device Security at Airports suggests Brits are lackadaisical about losing mobile devices compared to people from other countries. For example, European travellers were far more proactive in trying to collect their laptops, even though they were similarly less than scrupulous in going out of their way towards tracing errant mobile phones.

In Sweden, 100 per cent of laptops handed into airport lost property offices across the country were reclaimed, except at the main airport at Arlanda where 75 per cent were claimed. Swedish punters were far more lax about reclaiming their mobile phones, with an average of 60 per cent of lost phones being collected from airports in the country, a figure which drops to just 30 per cent in the case of Arlanda airport.

Over in Norway, just 10 per cent reclaimed lost mobiles from the lost property office of Oslo's main airport. However, 95 per cent of misplaced laptops were recovered from the same office. In Finland, just over half of people bothered to reclaim their mobile phone, but 91 per cent reclaimed their laptops.

The Australians also proved keen to reclaim lost computers with an almost 100 per cent laptop reclaim rate in four surveyed airports. Strangely, none of the mobile phones handed in to the lost property airport of Brisbane wound up being reclaimed.

Pointec reckons the falling price of mobile devices is a factor behind the failure in many cases to reclaim lost mobile phones. "People can't be bothered to reclaim them, as they know their company will probably give them a new, more fancy upgrade. Therefore, it's far more important for the company to protect the information and make it a mandatory procedure to have encryption on all mobile devices. Individuals too should always use passwords and try and encrypt the data if it's sensitive," Pointsec chief executive Peter Larsson said. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.