Security being taken to the cleaners

If you're after sensitive data for any reason, a laundrette could be a great place to go find it.

This is according to a survey from Credant Technologies, who claims that 9,000 USB sticks have been forgotten and left in pockets of clothes taken to dry cleaners.

Thes figures were obtained from phone interviews with 500 dry cleaners across the UK, who found an average of two USB keys per year. Extrapolating this to the 4,500 dry cleaners in the UK leads to the 9,000 figure.

Data sticks are most frequently found in city centres and commuter areas with one proprietor in the City of London finding 80 memory sticks in 2008 alone.

It's not just valuable data that's left in pockets. Other valuable items discovered include a gold Rolex watch and an envelope filled with diamonds.

This follows on from a survey conducted in September last year that found that over six thousand portable devices, such as laptops, mobiles and memory sticks are left in the back of taxis every six months.

The issue that this highlights once again is that devices need to have encryption to protect the data they contain in the highly likely event that they are lost.

A spokeswoman for Credant Technologies told IT PRO that it was the responsibility of companies to ensure that employees took data issues seriously. "Memory keys are a way of life but we're all infallible and they will get lost - in pubs, taxis, laundrettes. [Therefore] you have to take an executive decision to have security guidelines on what can and can't be downloaded [to USB memory sticks]. You need to have a policy in place otherwise it will create a headache. Staff just have to be trained.

"People often think that the data they're carrying isn't valuable but in the wrong hands it can be, so you have to look at it sensibly."

Benny Har-Even

Benny Har-Even is a twenty-year stalwart of technology journalism who is passionate about all areas of the industry, but telecoms and mobile and home entertainment are among his chief interests. He has written for many of the leading tech publications in the UK, such as PC Pro and Wired, and previously held the position of technology editor at ITPro before regularly contributing as a freelancer.

Known affectionately as a ‘geek’ to his friends, his passion has seen him land opportunities to speak about technology on BBC television broadcasts, as well as a number of speaking engagements at industry events.