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12,000 Laptops Lost Weekly At Airports 236

Posted by timothy
from the dignity-lost-even-more-often dept.
kthejoker writes "Apparently companies are even worse about losing our data than we suspected. From the article: 'According to a study of 106 major US airports and 800 business travelers published by the Ponemon Institute and Dell Computer, about 12,000 laptops are lost in airports each week. Only 30 percent of travelers ever recover the lost devices. Nearly half of the travelers say their laptops contain customer data or confidential business information.' Kinda scary..."
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12,000 Laptops Lost Weekly At Airports

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  • Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:04PM (#24051595) Homepage

    Perhaps they should have purchased insurance? .

    After all, the workers know not to steal the ones with the insurance stickers.

  • by Nos. (179609) <andrew@@@thekerrs...ca> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:05PM (#24051603) Homepage
    Truecrypt or similar commercial offerings are available and reliable. Protect your data and ours.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:06PM (#24051615)

    Someone has to be sued first. No excuse these days.

     

  • Re:Insurance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nos. (179609) <andrew@@@thekerrs...ca> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:06PM (#24051623) Homepage
    It's not about the hardware. Most companies don't care about the $2000-$3000 replacement cost. Its the data, or worse yet, having to disclose that you have potentially exposed customer data that they really want to avoid.
  • Math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HunterZ (20035) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:07PM (#24051643) Journal

    Where the hell are the 40,000 unrecovered laptops a year going? Is there really that much of a market for used (stolen) laptops?

  • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:08PM (#24051649) Journal
    The basic Debian and Fedora installs both offer full hard drive encryption as an option. It's a really good idea on any (backed-up) system with data that you don't want falling into the wrong hands.
  • huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:18PM (#24051751)

    This story is bunk. It does not pass the sniff test.

    600,000 laptops a year just floating around in thieves hands.. I don't buy it..

    Bad science.. bad study.

    The story doesn't say how many are recovered before the laptop loser leaves the building. it is probably 90%. I can live with 60,000 a year stolen.. but 600k.. blah.

  • by Mike1024 (184871) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:23PM (#24051807)

    According to a study [...] published by the Ponemon Institute and Dell Computer, about 12,000 laptops are lost in airports each week. Only 30 percent of travelers ever recover the lost devices. Nearly half of the travelers say their laptops contain customer data or confidential business information.

    In what I'm sure is completely unrelated news, the release of this report coincides with Dell releasing a new service - Dell Mobility Services Aim To Protect Notebook Data [crn.com], and New Dell Services Help Users Hunt Down Missing Laptops [investors.com].

  • by lena_10326 (1100441) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:25PM (#24051855) Homepage
    I thought this was going to be another story about TSA outright stealing laptops. Glad to read it's about people misplacing them instead. Whew.

    When I travel with a laptop, I make sure it's my only carry-on. I store extras in the front and inner pockets of the laptop bag. You're less likley to lose something if you've only got 1 thing to remember.
  • by Vancorps (746090) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:25PM (#24051857)

    Truecrypt along with Debian, Fedora, by extension Ubuntu are not solutions an enterprise can deploy reliably.

    Truecrypt is mighty close but portability is a killer for any enterprise to manage.

    Picture the scenario where a user changed the keys and then gets fired. With Truecrypt hopefully you have a copy of the master key so you should be fine. With encrypted LVM solutions things can get all kinds of hairy though.

    I wish Truecrypt supported fingerprint authentication. Right now it looks like Computrace's LoJack for Laptops is still the best option for enterprise deployment.

  • Hard To Believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alcoholist (160427) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:29PM (#24051897) Homepage

    This number of lost laptops in airports is pretty hard to believe. Worldwide laptop production is like what, 60 million units? This article seems to be telling us that one percent of all the laptops made every year in the whole entire world are lost in U.S. airports.

    It's a pretty big number given all the other ways a laptop can meet its end. Where are they all going? Is there some kind of giant warehouse somewhere?

    No wonder mobile sector of the computer industry is booming.

  • by visible.frylock (965768) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:31PM (#24051925) Homepage Journal

    12,000 / 106 = avg 113 laptops / airport / week.

    Seems a little high. The pdf doesn't mention what was counted in "lost/stolen" laptops. Do they count every time someone couldn't find their baggage on the belt and reported it (and it just so happened they had a laptop)?

    Only thing the pdf says about it is this:

    Laptop loss frequencies were collected from a confidential field survey as either a direct weekly estimate or as a range variable as reported by airport officials. Exact loss frequencies were typically not calculated or available for review.

    The article does say though that the study was sponsored by Dell supporting its ProSupport Mobility whatever. It claims that Ponemon conducted it independently.

    Either way, encrypt your laptops, and try to setup RDC or somesuch, so you can prevent sensitive data from being cached. But encryption should stop casual thieves 99% of the time. I assume Dell's stuff they're selling [dell.com] is meant to wait until someone accesses the internet with a stolen laptop and try to track it that way. But shouldn't the top priority be to prevent data from being accessed in the first place?

    What's more important? The data or the hardware cost?

  • by goofyspouse (817551) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:31PM (#24051937)
    It also could be done to avoid the costs associated with recycling outdated hardware.

    But, in this day and age, isn't every abandoned piece of luggage treated like a WMD? I would expect a lot more bomb squad activity at airports based on these (surely inflated) numbers.
  • by spoco2 (322835) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:32PM (#24051943)

    Really, let's look at who sponsored this study... Dell, and what do they have to gain from having businesses think that their laptops are all going to be lost?

    Why, insurance from them obviously. They do have very good lost/accidental insurance cover (which I got on my current laptop because work paid for it)... but it costs money, and obviously makes them money overall.

    So, take these results with a monstrous rock of salt.

  • by crovira (10242) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:43PM (#24052053) Homepage

    and VPN into my network here. (In defense, I keep NICE toys up here. Stuff the client doesn't need to know about.)

    The client picks up the cost and I don't carry anything when I travel.

    The safest place to keep my data is right at home.

    When the job is over I wipe the drive anyway, hand it back to the rental place and catch a flight back.

  • by owlstead (636356) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:00PM (#24052273)

    "Los Angeles's LAX reported more laptop losses than any other airport, about 1,200 per week. Most of the airports said they generally keep the laptops for some period of times, then destroy them if they are unclaimed."

    Destroy perfectly good computers??? Why??? Just destroy the drive, at most. Come on, how stupid can you get? Put them in schools, give them out to students, sell them to another country, but for Pete's sake don't throw them on landfills.

  • Lost or stolen (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Haxx (314221) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:02PM (#24052281) Homepage

        I think "Lost" should be replaced with stolen. The numbers are absurdly high, if 624,000 laptops are going missing at airports each year then that is a threat to national security and the goverment should do something. This article is a troll.

  • by v1 (525388) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:07PM (#24052331) Homepage Journal

    I can't imagine anyone checking a laptop. Carry on definitely the way to go. Watch a movie while you're at it.

  • Re:Miniscule (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:15PM (#24052403)

    You know, you put your stuff on the belt, walk through the detector, and they ask you to step aside for special screening without giving you a chance to collect your stuff. Or the detector beeps, and they need to ask you to step aside so they can check you with a wand. And all the while this is happening there is a crowd of people between you and your stuff. You can't see it. You can't tell the TSA agent to let you go so you can keep an eye on your stuff.

    It is a miracle I have never lost anything at during security check.

  • by OldSoldier (168889) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:18PM (#24052431)

    Really, let's look at who sponsored this study... Dell, and what do they have to gain from having businesses think that their laptops are all going to be lost?

    So, take these results with a monstrous rock of salt.

    Really? While I understand the nature of conflict of interest, on the spectrum of things that are open to interpretation, this one seems closer to "fact" than "opinion". You walk into an airport with a laptop, you walk out without one, boom... you're one of the 12,000.

    Sometimes facts are facts regardless of who's spouting them. If I told you the next new Moon was August 1, would you "take that with a monstrous rock of salt" because I was in the outdoor evening lighting business?

  • by wkk2 (808881) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:40PM (#24052675)

    It is not just the users. I believe the airports and their security theater is at least somewhat culpable for the $20M in losses a week. I usually carry a lot of special cords and I always have problems. The last troublesome item was two back-to-back modular jacks wire as a T1 crossover. Security handled it like it was a tarantula. After scattering everything all over the place, a supervisor finally let me pass. It is a wonder more stuff isn't lost.

    Encrypt everything. I just wish TrueCrypt had a feature that allowed the secret to be split between the user and a company web server.

  • Re:Insurance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by initialE (758110) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @09:15PM (#24053667)
    Why don't they steal the ones with insurance stickers? What am I missing here?
  • by KurdtX (207196) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @09:29PM (#24053793)

    Really? While I understand the nature of conflict of interest, on the spectrum of things that are open to interpretation, this one seems closer to "fact" than "opinion". You walk into an airport with a laptop, you walk out without one, boom... you're one of the 12,000.

    Sometimes facts are facts regardless of who's spouting them. If I told you the next new Moon was August 1, would you "take that with a monstrous rock of salt" because I was in the outdoor evening lighting business?

    I believe the conflict of interest was spelled out pretty clearly in TFA: "Dell used the report to support its launch of Dell ProSupport Mobility Services"

    Your analogy is pretty bad, you're talking about a binary event that we not only know to the day, but to the second. The study was done by sampling, and oh btw, if you read the study it does not say "about 12,000", it says "up to 12,000". A proper analogy there would be: Human beings grow to up to 8ft 11in [guinnessworldrecords.com] in height. I'm sure you can see how a company presenting that as typical needs to be taken with a monstrous rock of salt.

  • Re:Miniscule (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @09:58PM (#24054023) Homepage Journal
    That's actually a little surprising, because I've been on flights before where someone checks a bag and then doesn't show up for the departure (there's always at least one), and they have to open the cargo hold up and search for his bag to remove it.
  • by arth1 (260657) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @11:02PM (#24054485) Homepage Journal

    Indeed. It's like a car insurance company that tells you that you can save UP TO 15% by switching to them. That doesn't imply you'll save anything.

    10 laptops satisfies the "up to 12,000" figure.

    Also, keep in mind that the figure is rather useless unless you compare it to the number of laptops taken successfully through airports. 12,000 might sound high if you think of 12,000 travellers, but is rather low if it tuns out to equate to a 0.01% risk.

    All in all, this is slashvertising at its best. Don't give this D*** company any more publicity than what they actually deserve. This ain't it.

  • by papna (1242200) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @11:40PM (#24054767)
    I don't know exactly why he's taking such things on the plane, but I know personally I fly with no checked baggage as often as I can.
  • Re:Miniscule (Score:4, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @11:55PM (#24054857) Journal

    But still, what kind of moron loses their laptop while traveling? I can't imagine letting it out of my sight or even out of my reach.

    It doesn't take a moron. It takes someone who's momentarily distracted, tired, or asleep.

    I could say it takes an uncompassionate git to make such a sweeping statement with no regard for the wide variety of circumstances under which people that travel.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2008 @11:57PM (#24054873)

    I don't think they "destroy" them. If you were an employee for a airline would you let your supervisor just outright destroy a laptop that was found and never claimed. If you were the supervisor would you destroy a perfectly good working laptop? The airlines simply have to SAY they are "destroying" them.

  • by syousef (465911) on Friday July 04, 2008 @12:49AM (#24055169) Journal

    They're destroyed to remove the conflict of interest/incentive for empoyees in charge of returning them. Whether that's perceived or actual...who knows. I'll bet they're not all destroyed though. I bet there's some corruption somewhere and someone who sees the waste and decides "I'll have that then".

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday July 04, 2008 @01:15AM (#24055339)
    How pampered does one have to be to forget a laptop? I paid a lot for mine, and I'm not leaving it ANYWHERE.
  • Re:Insurance (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2008 @03:11AM (#24055901)

    And what about swap (paging) files? Tmp files? There are way too many potential information leaks with just one encrypted "data" partition...full-disk encryption is way better in that sense

  • Re:Insurance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by binaryspiral (784263) on Friday July 04, 2008 @05:20AM (#24056571)

    Ditto... how the eff do you forget your laptop? Phone, maybe I can buy - the holster broke, it slipped out my pocket in the cab...

    But a freakin' laptop? Me thinks someone just wants a new one and doesn't want to wait until the lease is up.

  • by heneon (570292) on Friday July 04, 2008 @09:07AM (#24057881)
    I heard for every driver that got killed in a car accident, 1 out of 5 was drunk. So I better drink before getting behind the steering wheel, if sober drivers are more likely to get killed!

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