Taxis Hailed A Black Hole as Confidential Data Gets Taken For a Ride
Newmarket, UK – Businesses and individuals are being urged to use the password and encryption facilities available on the recent crop of high memory capacity mobile smartphones, in order to protect the sensitive information held on them. This advice comes in light of a survey released today which shows forgetful travellers have a tendency to leave their mobile devices in the back of taxis.
In the last 6 months in London alone, a staggering 63,135 mobile phones (that’s an average of 3 phones per taxi), 5,838 Pocket PCs and 4,973 laptops have been left in licensed taxi cabs.
These figures bring a whole new meaning to ‘remote access’ to personal & confidential data, as distraught owners see their prize possession disappearing into the distance. That’s not forgetting the ‘clocking up’ of the cost of retrieving them on your personal or business time meter.
These figures are alarming due to the fact that in the past three and half years since the survey was first carried out, there has been a sharp increase in the number of powerful, executive-focused mobile devices being forgotten in London taxis with 71% more laptops and 350% more Pocket PCs being left than in 2001, which in the wrong hands could cause the owner and their company immeasurable damage.
The survey in London was conducted by TAXI, published by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association and Pointsec (experts in security for mobile devices) amongst licensed taxi drivers to gauge the frequency and ease with which small mobile devices are lost in transit and to highlight the need to secure sensitive, valuable or compromising information with encryption and access control.
A warning message to the business community and individuals to be vigilant when travelling with their mobile devices has never been more relevant, especially as more people than every before are using the latest range of “must have” mobile smartphones to store sensitive personal & business information.
Many of these devices now have a standard memory capacity of 80Mb enabling users to store 6,000 word documents, 720,000 emails, 360,000 contact details or a staggering 7,200 pictures.
Long gone are the days when it was just inconvenient to lose your phone and embarrassing if your friends got an odd call from a stranger. These newer devices can give a thief access to every detail of your personal life (including personal & private / family pictures) and compromise the security of your employer’s IT security or give access to their commercial data.
Be aware – hackers can steal this information and assume the identity of the user both in their personal or business life. According to the Home Office, Identity theft is now the fastest growing crime and costs the UK in excess of £1.3billion a year.
Losing mobile devices is not a problem unique to London travellers, but a worldwide phenomenon.
The survey has been carried out in 9 major cities around the world amongst 900 licensed taxi drivers, including London, Helsinki, Oslo, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Chicago and Sydney and has shown that mobile devices are forgotten universally at the back of taxis.
Londoners, however did top the charts when it came to forgetting their laptops, with more than double the number of laptops being left in the back of London taxis compared with other cities.
The Danes were the most forgetful when it came to forgetting their mobile phones, in fact seven times more likely than the Germans, Norwegians and Swedes.
In Chicago, USA, the mobile device most likely to be left behind were Pocket PCs, with one taxi driver reporting finding 40 in his taxi in the past 6 months!
Magnus Ahlberg MD of Pointsec commented “It is alarming to see that the problem of losing mobile devices has accelerated so dramatically since 2001, with more people than ever losing their mobile devices in transit.
In fact, mobile users are in a worse position now, because they are far more reliant on using their mobile devices to store massive amounts of sensitive information, with very few concerned about backing it up or protecting it.
My advice to any mobile worker is to talk to their IT department about taking responsibility for security, this way your back is covered if you do lose your mobile device.
Legislation is slowly becoming more specific in this arena and there is a good chance we will soon see legal action taken against individuals and organizations that do not protect information that they store on other people.”
Taxis a safe place to lose your mobiles
There is some good news for our absent minded colleagues though in that, if you are going to lose your mobile device, you couldn’t do it a better place than a taxi!
That’s according to the findings of the survey; globally an average of 80% of passengers were reunited with their mobile phones and 96% with their Pocket PCs and Laptops – with the cab drivers in almost all cases tracking down their owners.
However, the case was very different in Australia, with only 46% of laid-back passengers bothering to reclaim their mobiles and only 18% ever being reunited with their laptops!
Stuart Pessok, editor of TAXI commented: “Often people are working whilst being driven around in taxis and its common-place for them to forget their mobile devices. Luckily if they forget them in a taxi, there is a good chance they’ll get them back, but will they be so lucky if they forget them in an airport, restaurant, train or tube?
Not just mobiles, but diamonds, animals, children and sex aids……..
When asked what was the strangest items left in their taxis, London and Munich both appeared to have an unusually high number of sex aids and all taxi drivers had found a large number of forgotten condoms.
UK taxi drivers admitted to finding a harp, a throne, £100,000 worth of diamonds, 37 milk bottles, a dog, a hamster, a suitcase from the fraud squad and a baby.
In Munich, one taxi driver was shocked when he turned around to find his passenger dead, and strangely enough it was not uncommon for taxi drivers around the world to find their passengers had forgotten dentures and artificial limbs. All were reunited with their grateful owners!
Forgetfulness gets us all including the rich and famous
One lady taxi driver got a nice surprise, when she found that Jemima Khan had forgotten her iPod, mobile phone and purse in the back of her cab. When she got the call to return it to Jemima’s friend, she was delighted that the friend turned out to be Hugh Grant who gave her his autograph as a thank-you.
So if you don’t want to risk a virtual custard (or should that be blackberry?) pie in the face from family, friends or employer, heed the message and protect both your device and yourself.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The “Taxi survey – 2005” was conducted by Pointsec – experts in security for mobile devices together with 9 separate licensed taxi companies in 9 major cities around the world, including London, Sydney, Paris, Munich, Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Chicago. In London the survey was carried out amongst 131 of the 24,000 licensed taxi drivers. Each country surveyed between 100-130 taxi drivers and extrapolated the figures based on the number of taxis in each city.
For further information about the survey or to arrange an interview or comment from Magnus Ahlberg at Pointsec please contact Yvonne on 020 8449 8292 or email Yvonne@eskenzipr.com
Pointsec is the worldwide de facto standard for mobile device security – with the most customers deployed, highest level of certification, and more complete device coverage than any other company. Pointsec delivers a trusted solution for automatic data encryption that guarantees proven protection at the most vulnerable point where sensitive enterprise data is stored – on mobile devices. By securing sensitive information stored on laptops, PDAs, smartphones, and removable media, enterprises and government organizations can protect and enhance their image, minimize risk, shield confidential data, guard information assets, and strengthen public and shareholder confidence. Pointsec’s customers include blue chip companies and government organizations around the world. Founded in 1988, Pointsec Mobile Technologies AB is a wholly owned subsidiary of Protect Data AB, publicly traded (PROT) on the Stockholm stock exchange. The company has four U.S. offices and 11 EMEA offices. Pointsec can be found on the web at www.pointsec.com.