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December 7, 2015

Watch your mobile this Christmas: 138,000 devices left in UK bars

News: People who find forgotten devices admit to snooping around phones' contents.

By Alexander Sword

All the mobile security software you install can’t protect a device from being physically lost, as research reveals that around 138,000 phones and laptops are left in UK bars each year.

Internet security firm ESET found that on average 12 phones or laptops are left in each bar across the UK annually.

On finding the device, 61 percent of bars made contact with the owner by accessing it, while 18 percent handed the device to police.

However, 60 percent of respondents admitted to looking around the device if they found it unlocked, suggesting that the owner’s data was potentially at risk.

"While the majority of the devices in our study do get returned to their owners there is still a high chance that those with no security protection are accessed by intruders," Mark James, security specialist at ESET.

"As our laptops and mobile phones begin to carry more and more sensitive information and are linked to bank and work accounts there is a greater need to protect them because the risks are much higher should the devices ever fall into the wrong hands."

ESET surveyed around 600 bars across the UK and then extrapolated the figures.

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"First and foremost, everyone with a smartphone should enable lock screen security on their devices as the most basic precaution," said Craig Young, senior security researcher at Tripwire. "Ideally, this means a strong password/PIN or perhaps a fingerprint rather than a simple pattern unlock.

"For additional protection enable device encryption to further reduce the risk of unwanted access to sensitive personal information. The latest versions of Android and iOS both enable encryption by default but some older devices it may require the user to explicitly turn this feature on.

"If encryption is enabled along with a strong lock screen protection, information stored on the device will be protected from all but the most sophisticated attackers."

 

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