Taxis Hailed as Black Hole for Lost Cell Phones and PDAs, as Confidential Data Gets Taken for a Ride
Global Survey of 900 Taxi Drivers Shows Thousands of Valuable Mobile Phones, PDAs/Pocket PCs and Laptops are Forgotten in Taxis Every Day
CHICAGO, IL – January 24, 2005
Businesses and individuals are being urged to use the password and encryption capabilities available on the recent crop of high-memory mobile smartphones in order to protect the sensitive information often stored on them. This advice comes in light of a global survey released today, which shows forgetful customers have a tendency to leave their mobile devices in the back of taxis.
In the last six months alone, the nine-nation survey of leading taxi companies in Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Great Britain, and the U.S. indicated tens of thousands of digital devices were left behind inadvertently. The U.S. company polled in the survey, a major Chicago cab company, reported the highest number of losses per taxi of all firms studied, both in mobile phones (3.42 per cab) and PDAs/Pocket PCs (0.86 per cab).
Based on the large size of the Chicago company's fleet, the statistics indicate a staggering 85,619 mobile phones, 21,460 PDAs/Pocket PCs, and 4,425 laptops left in the firm's licensed cabs during the six months covered in the study. Only London, with 0.21 laptop PCs lost per cab versus the Chicago firm's 0.18, was higher in any category.
As mobile devices become more sophisticated and data storage capacities support increasing amounts of data, the statistics point to the need for vigilance in data protection. Many of today's mobile devices have a standard memory capacity of 80 megabytes; such capacities can support the equivalent of 6,000 Microsoft Word documents, 720,000 emails, 360,000 contact details, or 7,200 pictures.
The study, sponsored by Pointsec Mobile Technologies, a leading mobile data protection company, was conducted among licensed taxi drivers to gauge the frequency and ease with which small mobile devices are lost in transit. Pointsec first commissioned the study four years ago in London; this year's results indicated a significant worsening in the problem, with 71% more laptops and 350% more Pocket PCs/PDAs being left behind in that city than in 2001.
"It is alarming to see that the problem of losing mobile devices has accelerated," said Peter Larsson, CEO of Pointsec Mobile Technologies. "Mobile users are in an even worse position now because they are far more reliant on their mobile devices to store large amounts of sensitive information, with very few concerned about backing it up or protecting it. Legislation is slowly becoming more specific in this arena, and there is a good chance we will soon see legal action taken against people and organizations who do not protect information stored on mobile devices, much of which is about private individuals."
The comprehensive study was carried out in nine major cities around the world among 900 licensed taxi drivers. Cabbies in London, Helsinki, Oslo, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Chicago and Sydney were sampled; in each city, written surveys were administered by supervisors to drivers during their normal shifts. The results highlight the need to secure sensitive, valuable or compromising information using data encryption and user access control.
Many Happy Returns
Not all results of the research were negative, however. Globally, an average of 80% of all passengers were reunited with their mobile phones and 96% with their Pocket PCs/PDAs and laptops-with the cab drivers themselves, in almost all cases, tracking down the owners.
Worst on the list was Sydney, Australia, where only 46% of Down Under passengers bothered to reclaim their mobiles. Only 18% ever reunited with their laptops.
Viagra, Cats, and a Prosthetic Leg
When asked what was the strangest item left in their taxis, drivers around the world had no shortage of bizarre replies. Forgotten condoms seemed to top the list; however pets, undergarments, knives, and luggage were also strong contenders.
UK taxi drivers admitted to finding a harp, a throne, £100,000 in diamonds, 37 milk bottles, and a baby. Among the possessions found in Chicago cabs were a violin case, a cat, prescription Viagra, a treasure bond worth $2.5 million, and a prosthetic leg.
In Munich, one taxi driver was shocked when he turned around to find his passenger dead.
Perhaps the best story came from a female London cab driver who discovered her fare, British celebrity socialite Jemima Khan, had left her iPod, mobile phone, and purse in the woman's taxi. When the cabbie got the call to return the items to Khan's friend, she was delighted to discover the friend was actor Hugh Grant. Grant gave the driver his autograph as a thank you.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
A copy of Pointsec's study, "Taxi Survey 2005", is available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pointsec is the worldwide de facto standard for mobile device security - with the most customers deployed, highest level of certification, and more complete device coverage than any other company. Pointsec delivers a trusted solution for automatic data encryption that guarantees proven protection at the most vulnerable point where sensitive enterprise data is stored - on mobile devices. By securing sensitive information stored on laptops, PDAs, smartphones, and removable media, enterprises and government organizations can protect and enhance their image, minimize risk, shield confidential data, guard information assets, and strengthen public and shareholder confidence. Pointsec's customers include blue chip companies and government organizations around the world. Founded in 1988, Pointsec AB is a wholly owned subsidiary of Protect Data AB, publicly traded (PROT) on the Stockholm stock exchange. The company has four U.S. offices and 11 EMEA offices. Visit our web site at: www.pointsec.com. Pointsec is a registered trademark of Pointsec Mobile Technologies. All other product or service names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.