Published On: Fri, Jul 6th, 2012

New Report says lost laptops, cell phones and gadgets piling up at airporrts

For travelers, it’s hard to beat the convenience and compact size of a smartphone or tablet — which, unfortunately, may also explain why more of them are going missing at the nation’s airports. From Miami to San Francisco, it seems people are boarding flights but leaving their personal electronics behind.

A pile of mobile devices including smart phones, tablets, laptops and eBook readers. 2011 photo/Jeremy Keith via wikimedia commons

That’s according to a survey by Credant Technologies, a data-protection company in Addison, Texas. Released on Tuesday, the survey queried airports on the number of laptops, smartphone/tablets and USB sticks that were left behind, what various airports did with them and the percentage that were successfully reunited with their owners.

The results covered seven airports — Charlotte, Chicago-O’Hare, Denver, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Orlando and San Francisco — and found that travelers left behind 8,016 devices between July 2011 and June 2012. Of those, 45 percent were laptops, 43 percent were smartphones or tablets and 12 percent were USB sticks.

“Laptops are still a big loss vector but smartphones and tablets are becoming more of an issue,” said Sean Glynn, vice president of marketing. “More people are carrying them and more organizations are realizing that this BYOD phenomenon — bring your own device — means that a lot of data, both personal and professional, is now sitting on these devices.”

Although the survey didn’t analyze the number of lost items in relation to passenger volumes, it did reveal variations by location. Denver reported the most lost devices (3,240), followed by O’Hare (1,320) and Charlotte (1,200).

In Denver, laptops were far and away the most-often misplaced — 2,400 vs. 240 smartphone/tablets during the 12-month period — with most being left behind at security. In Chicago, however, lost smartphones and tablets topped laptops by a factor of 20:1 (1,200 vs. 60) with most being found in airport bathrooms.

Other Notable Research Points

  • Five of seven airports responded that the most common place mobile devices are left behind is at the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) checkpoints.
  • Two of seven answered that they found most missing devices in restrooms.
  • Six of seven airports replied that their mobile devices were donated to charity or transferred to another location.
  • Only one airport indicated they brought their missing devices to the authorities or to police.
  • Airports also responded that some of the more interesting items left behind this year included tires and microwave ovens.

Moving Forward: How Can I Protect Myself?

“The moment you lose your mobile device, call the airport’s lost and found department,” said Darren Shimkus, senior vice president of marketing, Credant Technologies. “You may be pleasantly surprised that they have your device. I’d also recommend the following precautions:

  • Ensure that any device you use to store corporate data is protected, especially things like smartphones and removable media
  • Use a strong password on your smartphone – simple passwords like “1234” are not adequate data protection
  • If you need to share information or back it up, ask your IT organization if they can help you keep it secure – working with them may save a lot of trouble later on.”
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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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