Taken to the Cleaners

A study from Credant Technologies finds clothes dropped off at the dry cleaners are often filled with forgotten USB sticks

Earlier this month, CSO reported on a worldwide recall on several hardware-encrypted USB sticks from multiple vendors because they contain a flaw which could allow hackers to easily gain access to the sensitive information contained on the device (See: Secure USB Drives Not So Secure). With the quality of security questionable in many USB drives, it would stand to reason that losing any stick carrying sensitive information now carries even higher stakes. With that in mind, have you checked your pockets? A survey released today out of the U.K. reveals that in the last year, 4,500 memory sticks have been forgotten in people's pockets as they take their clothes to be washed at the local dry cleaners.

The survey was carried out in the UK by British security firm Credant Technologies to gauge the frequency and ease with which mobile devices, such as memory sticks, are lost or forgotten in strange places such as dry cleaners, taxis and other commonly visited locations.

Also see: How to Tell if That USB Download is Worth the Security Risk

However, despite those high numbers, the amount of forgotten memory sticks was half when compared with the same study twelve months ago, according to Credant. In a statement on the findings, Credant officials said their theory is that the decline is likely to be a change in users' habits as opposed to a significant breakthrough in people's vigilance. Instead, users are now downloading information onto smartphones and netbooks, as opposed to USB sticks.

"Although this study shows a positive drop in the number of lost memory sticks we would urge users to take more care than ever not to download unprotected customer details and other sensitive information that if lost could lead to a security breach," said Sean Glynn, vice president and chief marketing officer at Credant Technologies, in a statement.

In previous studies conducted by Credant, taxi drivers in London and New York found more than 12,500 handheld devices such as laptops, iPods and memory sticks that were forgotten in the vehicle over a six month period.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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