The study, published today by security firm Credant Technologies, indicates the number of devices left in pockets actually decreased significantly from the year before, when the total at the same 100 dry cleaners was almost 9,000.
Credant theorizes this decline is likely to be a change in users' habits as opposed to a significant breakthrough in vigilance over data security. In fact, the security vendors suggests that users are now downloading information onto smartphones and netbooks, which have boomed in popularity in the past year. And netbooks are much more difficult to get into your pocket than USB devices. "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, especially now that there are harsh fines afoot," says Sean Glynn, vice president and chief marketing officer at Credant Technologies.
In a previous study, Credant found that passengers in London and New York left behind more than 12,500 handheld devices -- such as laptops, iPods, and memory sticks -- in taxis during a six-month period. Credant uses the studies to underscore why data on portable devices should be encrypted. The dry-cleaning study also found that customers had left in their pockets wedding rings, lipstick, and one pair of false teeth.
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