Saturday, November 18, 2006

Digital Vendors | Australia | Mobile Device Security at Airports

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News wonders how Australians take care of their computers and mobile devices when travelling.

A survey into “Mobile Device Security at Airports” by Pointsec Mobile Technologies earlier this summer shows Brits are lackadaisical – when it comes to losing mobile devices compared to many of their counterparts around the globe! Between 40-50% of people can’t be bothered trekking to the lost property office of a hectic airport to reclaim their mobile phone, laptop or PDA - they’d 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 a 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!

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!

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 it’s when these contact details go missing that people and their companies really begin to worry."

Larsson added that mobile devices are cheap these days, so 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 and individuals too should always use passwords and try and encrypt the data if it’s sensitive.

Meanwhile, other Europeans 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. Not surprisingly 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.

Now, as for the Australians they are also pretty keen to reclaim their laptops with an almost 100% monthly reclaim rate in the Melbourne (20 Laptops), Adelaide (1), Perth (1) and Brisbane (4) airports which were surveyed. But bizarrely in Brisbane, of the mobile phones that are handed in every week, absolutely none were reclaimed. Conversely, Melbourne mobiles handed in were 35. All were claimed.

Larsson of Pointsec Mobile Technologies adds a final note of caution: “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 3 months later!”

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News has been advised by Pointsec Mobile Technologies to be vigilant when travelling!

* Be prepared that PC's 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.

* Ensure you have a working back up policy.

Note: When Pointsec’s researcher phoned the lost property office at London’s 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.

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