Crackers, Hackers and Thieves – don’t make their Christmas – leave your Handhelds at home!

Leave your laptop or personal handheld at home when you join the Christmas rush and revelry, or risk losing your mobile device and all the information which resides on it.

This is the advice we are offering our corporate clients, based on research that we conducted this year in the "Mobile Usage Survey".

The survey found that 25% of people have already lost a laptop or PDA and this is likely to increase during the Christmas crush.

If it is not adequately protected with passwords and encryption, losing a mobile device could have potentially dire consequences such as:

  • having your identity stolen,
  • tarnishing your reputation, or worse still
  • allowing a hacker to breach your company's network.

In the build up to Christmas your chances of losing a mobile device are even higher than normal due to overcrowding:

  • In the stores, where everybody is Christmas shopping and you are laden down with bags.
  • On the trains and buses, as more people leave their cars due to limited parking spaces, drink driving or congestion charges.
  • At the banks and post offices as people need more money.
  • In restaurants, bars and clubs, as people celebrate at the Christmas party.

According to the survey you are most likely to lose your laptop or PDA in the back of a taxi on the way home from the Christmas party or after a big shopping expedition, as this is where a quarter of people report losing their devices.

The next most dangerous hot-spot is the venue itself with a fifth reporting that they have lost a device in a bar, restaurant or nightclub.

As if waking up after the Christmas party with a severe hang-over, or spending all your hard-earned cash is not bad enough, imagine the feeling when you can't find your laptop or PDA and realise it's been lost or stolen along with the entire details of your personal and corporate life.

A third of PDA owners commonly download onto their devices, bank account details, pin numbers, credit card information, social security numbers, business and personal names and addresses.

Many have this information residing on their PDAs without adequately securing this information with a third not using passwords and 57% not bothering with encryption.

By joining in the Christmas festivities this year and not adequately protecting this information you could be in grave danger of becoming another statistic and exposing all your data to
a thief, opportunist, hacker or competitor.

"Finding" an unsecured mobile device is the equivalent to getting his hands on "Santa's sack" to a modern day criminal.

Identity theft is now at an all time high and if an unprotected laptop or PDA is stolen and contains all your personal and corporate details it could enable someone to steal your identity.

A victim of identity theft will find that it could take them a frustrating 300 hours to put their records straight.

We in the security industry do not want to be kill-joys this Christmas.

We just want to bring to people's attention, that mobile devices frequently get lost or stolen when people are sober, let alone when they have had a few drinks at the Christmas party or just out and about caught up in the everyday Christmas rush.

Often people do not address this problem until it is too late and they have experienced the
disaster of losing valuable information.

Therefore, we would suggest that if your mobile device is not adequately protected with passwords or encryption leave them at home or under lock and key. We also advise to you to make it one of the New Year resolutions that you intend to keep, to implement you PDA's security measures.

One last thought, if partying or shopping without your mobile phone seems almost inconceivable remember to keep it in a safe place or face the consequences, as it's a common occurrence with 40% of people, who have already experienced the frustration of losing their mobile phone!

If you follow this simple advice, then you won't find that the colour of your face ends up matching the colour of Santa's suit, while you try to explain to your boss how you have "given away" corporate secrets.

Magnus Ahlberg is MD of Pointsec Mobile Technologies

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