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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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  • Miniscule (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrroot (543673) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @06:15PM (#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.
  • by B30-7A (1222610) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:40PM (#24052667) Homepage
    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.
  • Re:Math (Score:3, Informative)

    by toby34a (944439) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:47PM (#24052761)
    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 spoco2 (322835) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:04PM (#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.

  • by Deagol (323173) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @09:33PM (#24053819) Homepage
    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 can recover the data.

    For grins, I've started using full-HD encryption with geli on my workstation. It's really nice. I boot from a USB stick, which has just enough of the kernel and a fstab to mount the encrypted root device, then after passwords (1 for each of my 2 drives) are entered, everything just works. Speed, of course, is taken down a notch, but using gjournal with -o async,noatime helps a little.

    I encourage folks to check it out.

  • Re:Miniscule (Score:2, Informative)

    by KurdtX (207196) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @09:37PM (#24053841)

    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.

  • by ktappe (747125) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @10:06PM (#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.

  • Re:Insurance (Score:3, Informative)

    by Atti K. (1169503) on Friday July 04, 2008 @04:28AM (#24056333)
    If you have a decent amount of RAM (and a decent OS), you can disable swap for maximum safety. Disable hibernation and standby also, if data security is more important than convenience.
  • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Informative)

    by kaiidth (104315) on Friday July 04, 2008 @06:44AM (#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 wkk2 (808881) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:07AM (#24058323)
    I was installing a router in an airport and returning home without ever leaving the airport. If I had checked the crossover, I would have needed to take it back through security anyway. I have also fixed stuff while waiting for a layover. Two trips for the price of one.

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