IT Departments Warned About Device Loss Risk At Christmas Parties

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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ESET says 138,000 phones and laptops are lost in bars each year – 61 percent of which aren’t protected

Security firm ESET has issued a warning to IT departments ahead of the Christmas party season, estimating around 138,000 mobile phones and laptops are left in bars every year – most of which are not secured.

The company spoke to 600 bar across the country and found that while 83 percent of lost devices are returned to their rightful owner, 64 percent did not have any security protection installed.

Those who lost their work phone or laptop will inevitably be grateful for the safe return of their hardware, the information stored might not be as safe.

Christmas party worry

Celtic football fans beer barcelona © Maxisport ShutterstockSixty-one percent of bars made contact with the owner by accessing the device and just 18 percent handed them to the police. Sixty percent admitting to snooping around, potentially exposing corporate data. There is then of course the 17 percent of laptops and phones not returned.

“As we head into the festive season offices will be preparing for Christmas parties, which will inevitably involve alcohol consumption and people dropping their guard more than usual,” said Mark James, security specialist at ESET.

“This could also mean people taking work laptops and mobile phones along to parties and, based on the figures from our study, accidently forgetting them when they leave for home.”

“While the majority of the devices in our study do get returned to their owners there is still a high chance that those with no security protection are accessed by intruders. As our laptops and mobile phones begin to carry more and more sensitive information and are linked to bank and work accounts there is a greater need to protect them because the risks are much higher should the devices ever fall into the wrong hands.

“I imagine the majority of people who find a phone or laptop will actually have a look around and see if there is anything of any interest or value to be found.”

The potential damage caused by a lost device is just one of a number of potential headaches affecting IT departments this Christmas. In addition to potential debauchery by IT workers, there is also the worry more devices could be broken as a result. Indeed one physicist has attempted to work out why smartphones are more likely to land screen-down than screen up when dropped.

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