It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “being taken to the cleaners” but more than 23,000 devices containing personal data are found in customers’ pockets when they take their clothes for a spruce up every year, with nearly half never being returned.
According to a new survey from software solutions firm ESET, dry cleaners in the UK find an average of four USB sticks every year.
Based on the number of British outlets, the firm calculates that this equates to some 22,266 abandoned USB sticks a year, with an additional 973 mobile phones also unwittingly being left behind. Some 45% of all devices are never returned to their owners.
ESET secuirty specialist Mark James said: “It is a huge concern that so many devices are being completely forgotten about by their owners, particularly in light of the fact that stories about the loss of crucial information is creating news headlines every day. However, what is most astounding about the research is the fact that so many devices never actually get returned to their owners.
“The number of USB sticks and mobile devices left behind each year is staggering and clearly highlights the need for people to pay closer attention to protecting their data. It is time for people to start taking their own security more seriously.”
UK businesses could also be at risk as it is likely that devices containing sensitive corporate data could be among those never returned to their owners, Jones warned.
However, lost data is not the only issue, with dry cleaners reporting an Aladdin’s Cave of items gets left behind, including Viagra, condoms, dentures, cash, even casino chips being discovered in customers’ pockets.
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