Security: Lose more than your mobile device while traveling

Security of automation and control systems could be at risk during the travel season, if smart phones, laptops, netbooks, and USB sticks aren't adequately protected. Could your staff be leaving more than their troubles behind at the security gates when jetting off this festive season? See 8 security tips below.

12/29/2010


Security of automation and control systems could be at risk during the travel season, if smart phones, laptops, netbooks, and even USB sticks aren't adequately protected. ‘Tis the season to be jolly – and to leave sensitive corporate information behind at the airport! According to telephone interviews with the lost property offices of 15 UK airports, including Heathrow and Luton, over 5,100 mobile phones and 3,844 laptops have been left behind so far this year; with the majority still unclaimed and many more expected to be left over the Christmas holiday peak season. This figure is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg as ABTA expect over 4 million people to be travelling over this period, and the overall figures do not take into account all those devices that were stolen, or kept by the "lucky" finder.

The survey, carried out by Credant Technologies, also found that in the majority of cases, those devices that aren’t reclaimed are then either sold at auction or donated to charities. Lost devices may contain information that could be available for the new owner. With ID theft from mobile phones and other lost devices at an all time high, users should really take special care this holiday season when travelling.

According to a representative at Luton Airport, the most common place devices are forgotten is at the security check point as it’s a very pressured environment with numerous distractions. Often, once the travelers have boarded the plane and left the country it’s just too expensive to return for the device, which in most instances will be covered by insurance, resulting in the majority going unclaimed.

But the device’s value is the last thing organizations should be worrying about, explains Seán Glynn, VP at Credant Technologies, “What is much more concerning are the copious volumes of sensitive data these devices contain – often unsecured and easily accessed. Without protecting mobile phones, laptops and even USBs with something even as basic as a password, a malicious third party can have easy access to the corporate network, email accounts and all the files stored on the device including the contact lists. Users also store such things as passwords, bank details and other personal information on the device making it child’s play to impersonate the user and steal their identity – both personal and corporate.” 

8 top tips to secure travel

  1. As you leave - whether it’s the check-in desk, security check point, or even the train station, make sure you take everything with you, including your mobile devices. A few seconds to check could potentially save you hours of frustration and embarrassment.
  2. Protect your mobile device: with at least a password (and ensure that it is a strong one, containing letters, numbers and symbols).  Better still, use an encryption solution so that even if your device is left behind, the data on it is not accessible to anyone who finds it.
  3. Don’t elect to automatically complete online credentials, such as corporate network log in details, so that if you and your device should become separated, it cannot operate without you.
  4. Back-up your device and remove any sensitive information that you do not need. If it’s not there it can’t be breached.
  5. As in tip 4, remove SMS and emails that you don’t need anymore - you’d be sur­prised how many people keep their default password emails on their mobiles and other hugely sensitive information like PINs, bank account details or pass­words!
  6. Don't leave your mobile device open to access (e.g. leaving Bluetooth or WiFi turned on) somewhere visible and unsecured.
  7. Include your name and contact details in the device so that, if it should be lost, it can easily be returned to you. Some operators have a registration service to facilitate this.
  8. Finally, speak to your IT department before you leave the office this year – that’s what they’re there for. They’ll help make sure your device is better protected should it find itself languishing all alone at the airport.

This survey was conducted by Credant Technologies amongst 15 UK airports, by phoning the lost property offices and finding out how many laptops and mobile phones are left on average every week. 

- Edited by Amanda McLeman, Control Engineering, www.controleng.com



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