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Portables Security Transportation United States Hardware

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 @05:04PM (#24051595) Homepage

    Perhaps they should have purchased insurance? .

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nos. (179609)
      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.
      • by TommydCat (791543) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:26PM (#24051865) Homepage

        You've obviously never lost a company laptop... They definitely care and can show it by giving you an "off the shelf replacement" which turns out to actually be a Kaypro luggable ;)

        I've observed a similar thing with replacement Blackberrys...

        • They definitely care and can show it by giving you an "off the shelf replacement" which turns out to actually be a Kaypro luggable

          I've observed a similar thing with replacement Blackberrys...

          I think some of that depends on your importance within the team. One of my teammates lost his Treo 650 and they replaced it within days despite having a hard time getting one through Sprint. There were shortages at the time, so they bought one off Ebay--paying extra. They did it because this guy was a key member of t

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kilodelta (843627)
          I've had business issued laptops, cell phones, etc. but never ever lost one.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by binaryspiral (784263)

            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.

            • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Informative)

              by kaiidth (104315) on Friday July 04, 2008 @05:44AM (#24057009)

              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...

              One place I worked at for a while, in France, was in an industrial estate. They'd carefully secured everything with magic keycard entry and security, and were very careful about letting laptops out of the building. I eventually got permission to travel with my laptop on the basis that I was spending weeks at a time off at the R&D centre several hundred miles away, and got a habit of taking it home in the evenings as well. I mention this because I walked in with my laptop one Tuesday morning and discovered that over the previous night, somebody had walked in and stolen every single laptop from the building. For a while I was the only person with a laptop...

              So yeah. Laptops are tempting targets and do tend to 'disappear', so some of these 'forgetfulness' issues may actually be assisted by larceny. I find it a little inexplicable that so many people actually lose them in the literal sense, but I suppose it's not all that difficult. If for example you've been from say Austin to say Milwaukee via Memphis and Chicago, and upon exiting the airport you're lugging around a small suitcase, a cabin bag, two plastic bags containing duty-free and a bottle of water to replace the one confiscated at the airport respectively, and a laptop bag, then it seems not beyond the realms of plausibility that you might inadvertently leave something behind in the taxi. This only gets worse with really long-haul flights, which often leave you disgustingly overtired and dehydrated and generally incapable of counting your own shoes, assuming you remembered to retrieve them from the X-ray machine on your way through, let alone the number of items of luggage you have on you and whether you packed your laptop in the briefcase or just carried it around the airport in its metrosexual little neoprene sock.

              I have no explanation for the number of idiots who lose laptops on trains in the UK, other than to say that if you make it through a trip from Penzance to Glasgow with your soul intact, let alone your luggage, you are already doing pretty well.

    • by spoco2 (322835) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:32PM (#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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by OldSoldier (168889)

        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?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by B30-7A (1222610)
          I agree. I've flown out of Orange County a lot in the last three years and I swear every time I'm there for the 6:45 am mad rush I hear the base ball announcer dude come on the PA asking someone to return to security to claim a forgotten laptop. I'm thinking 12,000 is a reasonable number.
        • by jmv (93421)

          Very often, these numbers are obtained through wild estimations that can be "adjusted" to give pretty much anything you want. Through poor methodology and tiny sample sizes, you could probably end up with either 100/wk or 12,000/wk depending how what you prefer.

        • by spoco2 (322835) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:04PM (#24052955)

          It's here [dell.com]

          First up:
          "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."

          It's all just averages using methods that are vague.

          Then... 22% of these lost in the major airports are recovered before the flight... (15% in the minor) but they include all of these laptops that were lost for a number of minutes.

          Then there are 9% (Major) and 20% (Minor) that are recovered after the flight.

          Come on, we're talking most likely badly taken figures in the first place, and then including laptops that aren't really lost at all.

        • Yes, I would... considering it is August 5th - not the 1st.

          http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/MoonPhase.php

          ;-)

          But seriously, if this study was really either accurate and/or relevant, I can guarantee you that Dell would NOT be selling insurance covering loss... they would lose too much money - which does make one wonder about the motives behind the study.

          Though honestly, I am not sure how one would leave a laptop on a plane... I for one know after lugging my carryon stuff onto a plane and remembering th

        • by KurdtX (207196) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:29PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by arth1 (260657)

            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

        • by ktappe (747125) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @09:06PM (#24054065)

          You walk into an airport with a laptop, you walk out without one, boom... you're one of the 12,000.

          Riiiight. And how exactly does that happen? It magically vaporizes from your carryon? When exactly is that? My carryon never leaves my person, and thus my laptop never leaves my person...except for when it's going thru the metal detector. If my laptop disappeared in that machine, they'd have to pry me away from that machine with a crowbar. And I can't even come close to fathoming that happening 12,000 times per week. Thus, I call serious shenanigans on this 12,000/week claim. And as a result of that, I likewise call shenanigans on your simple "boom" acceptance that this is actually occurring.

        • by nospam007 (722110)

          > You walk into an airport with a laptop, you walk out without one, boom... you're one of the 12,000.

          You walk into an airport withOUT a laptop, you walk out without one, boom... you're one with a gift for John-Boy.

      • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by initialE (758110)
      Why don't they steal the ones with insurance stickers? What am I missing here?
  • by Nos. (179609) <`ac.srrekeht' `ta' `werdna'> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:05PM (#24051603) Homepage
    Truecrypt or similar commercial offerings are available and reliable. Protect your data and ours.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Colin Smith (2679)

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

       

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Henry V .009 (518000)
      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.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Vancorps (746090)

        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 L

        • by Qzukk (229616)

          With encrypted LVM solutions things can get all kinds of hairy though.

          LUKS [endorphin.org] (cryptsetup) actually has a mechanism for adding multiple keys, though if you let the user log in as root, they'd just change those keys too. Or hell, dd /dev/urandom over the whole thing.

          But if they really wanted to screw the company over, why bother with all that when they can just "lose" the laptop on a business trip?

          • by Vancorps (746090)

            Thanks for the link, I've been trying to find a deployment strategy for enterprise wide encryption. Most of the systems seem rather clunky and not well thought out.

            One of my test laptops suddenly started saying that the TPM chip cannot be contacted so the encrypted laptop is now useless and needs to be wiped to start all over. Fortunately it's just a test laptop so there's nothing on it to worry about but it definitely makes me nervous about deploying it for the whole company.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Deagol (323173)
          FreeBSD's geli (GEOM ELI) can have 2 different master keys, along with key files, if desired ("man geli" then search for "girlfriend"). The keys are easily backed up, as well (via the geli command or copying the last sector of the device -- which is what the command does anyways.) So even if you didn't have a 2nd key, you'd back up the key when you deployed the device to the end-user, and then, short of intentional device corruption (which, I assume, any HD crypto scheme is susceptible to), then the admin
    • by v1 (525388)

      and filevault is free, bundled, and only a button click away.

    • "Truecrypt or similar commercial offerings are available and reliable. Protect your data and ours."

      Whatever happened to "Information wants to be free?" Or does that only apply to bootleg copies of Iron Man?

      I'm confused.

      • "Truecrypt or similar commercial offerings are available and reliable. Protect your data and ours."

        Whatever happened to "Information wants to be free?"

        I'm confused.

        And that information that wants to be free, includes, of course, the names and employers of the bastards who stole the f**ing luggage.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wkk2 (808881)

      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 featu

  • by merreborn (853723) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:05PM (#24051605) Journal

    ...Why do they keep giving these 800 people laptops if they're each losing over 12 per week?

  • Math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HunterZ (20035) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:07PM (#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 XorNand (517466) *
      Hrm? (12,000 laptops per week) * (30% recovery rate) = 436,000 laptops per year that vanish into the void. Sounds like someone got the decimal point wrong.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:14PM (#24051719)
      .... and the answer is yes.
    • A figure of 350 is quoted for San Francisco (small print "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."; which I read as "we guessed").

      That's 100 per week per terminal at SFO (ish). That's around 14 a day or 1 an hour. 40% were of these were at security - about 1 every 2.5 hours.

      At airports that broadcast it, I

      • by HunterZ (20035)

        If it's supposed to be some tealeaf legging it out of security the wrong way with someone's laptop I don't believe it - if that happened every 2.5 hours you'd notice it.

        They said only 30% of laptops were recovered, so...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by toby34a (944439)
      It's called Unclaimed Baggage, and it's wonderful. I need to make another trip out there (only 40 minutes from Huntsville, AL. http://www.unclaimedbaggage.com/ [unclaimedbaggage.com]
    • by story645 (1278106) *

      Scrap?

      The lcd's alone are worth a ton and some of the other parts can be melted down.

    • by p0tat03 (985078)
      Go to a college sometime - stolen laptops are a thriving economy. Sadly, most people I've run into will have no qualms about buying laptops they know to be stolen (or suspect to be so).
  • Miniscule (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrroot (543673) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:15PM (#24051731)
    That is nothing compared to the amount of passenger's luggage that is lost daily by the airlines [usatoday.com].

    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.
    • That is nothing compared to the amount of passenger's luggage that is lost daily by the airlines

      They once lost my checked in bag on a direct flight from Chicago to KC. Direct flight--no hops! And worse, I checked the bag early. There was plenty of time to get it on my plane. Fortunately, it was recovered a couple days later.

      • Re:Miniscule (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mrroot (543673) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:01PM (#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 shmlco (594907)

          "The fact that you checked them early..."

          So get there early, and you're screwed. Get there too late, and you're screwed. And no matter when you get there, the airline is going to charge you $15 for each bag, which means you're screwed anyway.

          And with all of the budget cuts, they're not even going to buy you a drink first...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jandrese (485)
        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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

    • by mmkkbb (816035)

      There are definitely clueless kids that lose their backpacks in the airport, and they can get stolen if you so much as look away in a crowded airport and you're not touching the bag.

    • By the Numbers (Score:2, Interesting)

      by perlith (1133671)
      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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KurdtX (207196)

      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.

      I take it you haven't been to an airport in the last decade, if ever.

      The study does point out about half are lost at security, where everyone (moron or not) has to put their laptop out of sight and out of reach.

    • Re:Miniscule (Score:4, Insightful)

      by syousef (465911) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @10:55PM (#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 waynemcdougall (631415) <slashdot@codeworks.gen.nz> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:15PM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by goofyspouse (817551)
      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.
  • huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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 Exp315 (851386)
      I tend to agree with you on this one Anonymous Coward. Maybe people are bit to ready to believe sensational stories. I clicked through the several links to get as close to the original study as possible, and the words "estimate by airport officials" start to appear with no further details.
  • by andrewd18 (989408) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:18PM (#24051757)

    published by the Pokemon Institute ... about 12,000 laptops are lost in airports each week

    They're missing because I caught them all!

  • by denzacar (181829) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:22PM (#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 fizzup (788545) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:47PM (#24052091)

      I get it 12,000 laptops per week times 17 1/3 weeks per year means 208,000 laptops per year.

      208,000 laptops per year times 4.8269231 years means 1,004,000 laptops in five years.

      What are you on? Glue?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      You still wouldn't be able to use these in the dust with no power outlet somewhere. The XO has that yoyo charger. Very important for many of the places they need to go. These would be more useful in schools right here in the first world.
      • Send them pre-charged.

        When kids use up the battery, they can mail the laptops back to the first world where they will be recharged and returned to the kids - for a small fee naturally.
        Its not our fault they are godless, electricityless lazy savages.
        We are trying to HELP here, hello! They could get off their asses and help us help them.

        You know... like... put those sockets on the walls of their huts so they could recharge the laptops themselves.
        I mean... how hard can it be. You like.. need a screwdriver and

  • by Mike1024 (184871) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:23PM (#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 @05:25PM (#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.
  • ... the laptops have not been "lost". The owners simply don't know where they are.

    I recommend checking eBay.
    • by antdude (79039)

      But how does one know that it is thiers? Sellers are not going to post serial numbers. If there are decorations (e.g., stickers), then probably remove them or use company's photographs.

  • Hard To Believe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alcoholist (160427) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:29PM (#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.

  • A lot of salesmen I know would be the type to "lose" their laptop, cell phone, etc when what they really want is a new one. Losing it is the easiest way to get what they want.
  • by visible.frylock (965768) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:31PM (#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 Zadaz (950521)

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

      To the owner of the laptop? The hardware cost.

      Go and smash someone's laptop, but not so badly the hard drive is compromised.

      Are they going to say "Ah, my data is safe. Thank goodness!"?
      Or are they going to come after you for the replacement cost of the laptop?

      Yeah, the former. While the data on many people's laptops is where they value is, most people don't think that way yet. Obviously.

  • by crovira (10242) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @05:43PM (#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.

  • ...we've got all the security personnel in airports watching the wrong group of people!
  • How were they recovered? Is it from phone software? Lost & Found? eBay?

  • by owlstead (636356) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:00PM (#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)

        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.

  • I know the chances of recovering is very low without phoning home method, but there ways to increase the chances even if it is very tiny. Check eBay, Craig's List, Google (e.g., with serial #), etc. (including international ones if stolen outside of USA). Report it to police, where it was stolen (e.g., airport), etc. Anything else else I missed?

  • I just got myself my first laptop in 5 years. I need to compute on the rode again. Since I am a longtime Debian user the choice was easy. I got the current beta installer for Lenny:
    http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/ [debian.org]

    And lo and behold: encrypting every partition was very easy to set up using it.

    I imagine every current distro should have that feature build into the installer. Just look for it next time you install a laptop.

    And if you have to use Windows there is always Truecrypt. So I don't see any

  • Common sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan@noSPAM.notroswell.com> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:42PM (#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.

  • My B.S. meter is pinging wildy. This story is fishy. I do a lot of flying and I've never heard any airlineannounce that someone left their laptop. I've heard it for jewelry, cameras, purses and even shoes (wtf?). But never laptops. What's the first thing a business traveller does when getting past the TSA goons? Find an outlet and hotspot and start sending emails. They need a laptop to do that, so they're going to notice if they left it behind.

    Of course, this story could be true. After all, the TSA makes yo

  • sounds like in each airport lounge there is a cluster waiting to be discovered! :)
  • Lots of laptops disappear when they get their hands on them.
    • Lots of laptops disappear when they get their hands on them.

      I know what you mean. I kept wondering why they keep calling it "lost" when they are never found. The event is more akin to STOLEN than it is to LOST.

      I don't see the airlines having a huge storage or auctions of unclaimed laptops (among loads of other things). If it is lost while in control of the airline, and it is not ever 'found', where is it? If there is no huge bin filling up with the 'we can't find the owner of this' stuff, then IT WAS PROBABLY STOLEN!

      I'm just using logic here. I'm sure the airlin

      • by DragonTHC (208439)

        remember these are still the same minimum wage workers that used to do security screenings before the TSA existed. now they just have to watch a government video to wear the shirt.

        I would have no doubts that some unsavory TSA workers are stealing and fencing laptops they 'screen'.

  • While I find the number rather high, and odd that it hasn't been discussed before, my anecdotal evidence with cell phones makes it at least plausible.

    I lost a car charger at a small airport (MEM) and went to the car rental place. They pulled out a big bin of cell phones and accessories, and said take your pick. They also said take a phone if you want. When I asked, they said it was a week or two's haul.

    I felt a bit cheap trying to track down my $5 charger, and unfortunately they didn't have one that work

  • Slashdot had some truly nasty things to say recently about US customs poking through data on travelers' laptops.

    I wonder, how often does that happen, and whether people just losing their hardware (and the data) to complete strangers is not a far scarier problem...

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday July 04, 2008 @12:15AM (#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.

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