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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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  • Re:Math (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:13PM (#24051705)

    For foreign security services, some of who double as corporate espionage agents, laptops with data on critical contracts, possibly classified material, logins and VPN software to connect to corporate and government networks, hell, even blackmail material, they're a gold mine!

    The guys picking up the laptops might be run of the mill local criminals, but you'd be a fool if you were an intelligence agent and didn't have line on an easy source of info like this.

  • by waynemcdougall (631415) <slashdot@codeworks.gen.nz> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:15PM (#24051735) Homepage

    My experience working in a hotel...

    Business person (men and women) leave laptop in hotel room. Contact said person to return it.

    "Oh, no, don't send it back - it's a year old - I claim on insurance and get a new, faster, better laptop. You can have it."

    I can't help thinking an airport is a better place to "upgrade" your laptop - none of those pesky hotel staff trying to return it to you.

  • by denzacar (181829) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:22PM (#24051799) Journal

    You know... that comes out to about 1004000 laptops every five years.

    If we could only get airport personnel to increase their "output" we could scrap that pointless One Laptop Per Child project.
    Those things cost money.
    These would be like... for free.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:55PM (#24052197)
    My company has a policy to not let your laptop out of your sight when traveling. That meant put it through the xray machine and wait for it to come out.

    The TSA decided to do a random screening on me and take me away from the X-Ray machine one day. I said "Wait, where's my laptop?"

    The TSA guy said "don't worry about your laptop, calm down." In the meantime, I turn around and it it pops out of the xray machine, unattended, laying on the conveyor belt, about 10 meters away from me.

    I respond "I will not 'calm down.' It has confidential information on it and my company has a policy that it is not to leave my presence when traveling."

    So he calls the police on me for being "irrational."

    No, I'm not kidding.

  • Re:Miniscule (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrroot (543673) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:01PM (#24052277)
    I have done some software development work for the Airlines, and one thing I learned is your bags do not necessarily follow the same path you do (yes even on a direct flight). The fact that you checked them early actually was probably your mistake because you gave them a chance to put them on a different flight.

    And from my own personal experience it is frustrating trying to communicate with the baggage complaint desk person (could there be a worse job?) because the airline doesn't consider them lost, only delayed, and they are sure to remind you of that throughout the conversation.
  • by citylivin (1250770) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:15PM (#24052405)

    I assume you install a new OS on those rented laptops too, open up the case to look for hardware keyloggers.. etc

    Something you bought and secured yourself is way more trustworthy than some random laptop from a rental place.

  • Common sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan@nCHEETAHotroswell.com minus cat> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:42PM (#24052705) Homepage Journal

    I never let my laptop out of my sight anywhere - as has been said, prevention is better than a cure. Do not check it in, take it on as hand luggage. If security wants to check your machine to prove it's not a cleverly disguised stick of dynamite, watch them. Keep an eye on your luggage, and if you see someone opening up a bag and helping themselves to its contents, take a picture with your mobile phone or equivalent: otherwise, it'll be your word against the baggage handler's.

    Another thing that tends to stop the machine getting lost/stolen is to take it around in a bag that is not specifically a 'laptop' bag. I stick my Eee PC into my bag, a fabric satchel, and while it does mean that cables get a bit tangled up, everything is safe and it's less likely to draw thieves' attention to it. It also has the added advantage of being able to wrap it around your ankle, so if someone tries to pinch it, you'll feel it tugging against your leg.

  • By the Numbers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by perlith (1133671) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:49PM (#24052779)
    I find it interesting 14% of those who responded to the survey classified themselves as a job role in "information technology". This is the third highest behind sales (24%) and management (20%). Not necessarily a result of job role, but rather, of company culture towards such losses.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:58PM (#24052893)

    The numbers just don't sound right to me. I almost shut down an airport terminal once, because I forgot to tell the TSA agent that inside my laptop bag was also a Targus Chill Mat, which looks like an aluminum two-burner silver grill with wires sticking out of the sides. One of my children is severely handicapped and hooked up to complicated medical devices, so we have to go through the secondary intensive screening EVERY time we fly. Since we always have to go through the secondary screening process, our carry-on bags are opened by the TSA agents, and they're the ones who take the laptop out of the bag and put it on the conveyor belt.

    The Targus chill mat sent everyone around us scrambling into panic mode, and the rent a cops with guns were circling it, staring at it and trying to figure out what the hell it was. Luckily they were in my husband's line of sight and he was able to explain what it was before they cuffed us and hauled us off to Guantanamo. My point is that if one Targus Chill Mat packed inside a laptop computer carry-on bag can cause this kind of commotion, I absolutely do not believe that there are 12,000 abandoned or lost laptops found inside of airports every week.

  • Re:Insurance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kilodelta (843627) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:35PM (#24053307) Homepage
    I've had business issued laptops, cell phones, etc. but never ever lost one.
  • by lpq (583377) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:47PM (#24053423) Homepage Journal

    So Dell's primary business is selling laptop insurance?

    I don't think so...

    OTOH -- if that stolen laptop is from Dell -- better make sure you never call up for support on it.
    Dunno about other laptop vendors, but Dell's been getting keeping close track of machines purchased by companies -- what company owns them, who is calling on their behalf...etc.

    If all laptop vendors did that, it seems it might drop the worth of stolen laptops, since they are not notoriously reliable and long-lived.

  • 12,000/? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2008 @10:25PM (#24054217)

    twelve thousand laptops a week, out of how many? a million? 10 million?

  • Re:Insurance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The Snowman (116231) * on Friday July 04, 2008 @02:25AM (#24055671) Homepage

    Its the data, or worse yet, having to disclose that you have potentially exposed customer data that they really want to avoid.

    My company-owned laptop has around 50% of its hard drive taken up by a TrueCrypt volume containing all proprietary information pertaining to the company and its customers. I chose a cryptographically-strong password and algorithm to encrypt this volume. With the way I store data (I prefer simple text files) I can guarantee that without the password for that TrueCrypt volume, 99% or more of the potentially sensitive data will be locked away. I have seen laptops lost or stolen at airports, from someone's car while he was in a restaurant, or even swiped off their desk at work by the cleaning staff at night. For this reason I lock my laptop in my desk in accordance with company policies, and if I remove it from the building (telecommuting or traveling on business) the damn thing is in my hands, or the carrying case is over my shoulder. I maintain physical and logical control over that data at all times. This protects my company and its customers from loss of sensitive data, and it protects my mortgage from a sudden loss in biweekly bank deposits :-)

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