According to v3.co.uk, a recent informational release by Transport for London (TfL) shows that nearly 25,000 devices were left behind by Londoners in 2013. Phones, laptops, tablets, and other data storage devices were mistakenly mislaid in buses, trains, taxis, and other public transportation. Seeing how such devices generally hold information that can be used for perpetrating fraud, it makes sense to have them protected from third parties. And this can be done by using disk encryption that often comes with said devices.
More than 25,000 in 2013 Alone
Despite the report noting almost 25,000 devices were lost in public transportation last year, the truth is that actual figures are higher. That’s because not all lost devices would’ve made it to TfL. But of the ones that did make it, phones comprised the overwhelming majority. The figures breakdown thus:
USB devices: 1,449
Computer hard drives and PC units: 148
The v3.co.uk article also noted “phones are most commonly left on buses (12,091), while most laptops are left on trains (352) and most tablets are left in taxis (294).” An interesting set of figures, but not sure if they’re indicative of anything. For example, are we to conclude that tablet owners prefer to ride taxis over trains? Or that tablet owners need to be more careful if riding a taxi but not so much if taking the bus?
The first set of data shows something that’s forever been obvious: the smaller your device, the easier it is to lose it. Plus, the more you have of one device, the greater the raw numbers associated with its loss. There are more people walking about with a phone than with laptops, which are (as of yet) more common than tablets, and so on and so forth.
Regardless of the size of the device, though, it’s pretty apparent that most of these would have benefited from the use of encryption software to protect its contents, as in this day and age, it would be unusual not to find personal and other sensitive information stored on a mobile electronic device.
Most modern smartphones and tablet computers already come with encryption (it’s just a matter of turning it on) but surveys from even a couple of years back revealed that half of all users didn’t really bother with encryption or passwords.
But what about laptops and USB drives? If you’re a Mac user, you’re in luck as these also come with pretty good encryption. If you’re a Windows user, though, you may be out of luck. Higher end versions of Windows come with free encryption but not the consumer grade ones.
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