Commuter memory lapses leave data in danger as laptops are left behind

Commuter memory lapses leave data in danger as laptops are left behind

Almost 5,000 laptops and more than 60,000 mobile phones have been left in the back of London’s black taxis by forgetful passengers in the past six months, according to The Taxi Survey 2005.

The survey was carried out by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association and mobile technology firm Pointsec among 131 of the capital’s 24,000 licensed taxi drivers.

Based on the survey responses, Pointsec estimates that 63,135 mobile phones, 5,838 pocket PCs and personal organisers and 4,973 laptops were left in the back of cabs during the second half of last year.

Pointsec warned that with the ever increasing memory capacity of mobile devices, the information stored on those lost represents a potential back door to corporate IT networks and leaves forgetful travellers open to identity theft.

Magnus Ahlberg, managing director of Pointsec, said: “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.”

Taxis, however, are not the only places where careless commuters are prone to leaving laptops and other mobile devices.

Transport for London, which covers London Underground and London buses, said it handled 10,614 lost mobile phones and 5,718 electronic items including cameras and laptops in the past year.

Heathrow Airport said that three or four laptops were handed into its lost property department each week along with up to 10 mobile phones per day, although most are reclaimed by the original owners.

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