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Back up and encrypt your mobile before leaving it in the taxi

Credant Technologies : 01 December, 2009  (Technical Article)
With as many as 10,000 mobile phones likely to be left in London Taxi cabs this month, Credant Technologies has a few tips to help prevent total loss of valuable data
London cabbies warn that this time is the worst time of year for leaving mobile devices such as phones, laptops and USB sticks in the back of their cabs as busy shoppers jump in and out of their cabs with their hands full of Christmas shopping.

According to the regular taxi survey organised by Credant Technologies, Londoners forget on average around 10,000 mobile phones a month (almost one every two months per taxi) in the back of taxis, and more than 1,000 other handheld devices, including iPods, laptops and memory sticks, every month.

The taxi survey - which is carried out in London amongst licensed taxi drivers - seeks to gauge the frequency and ease with which mobile devices are lost in transit.

The study also highlights the fact that if you travel in taxis or other forms of public transport, then you need to encrypt your data so no one can see it. At the very least, you should password protect your data since, as various high-profile cases have shown in the last few years, it could easily fall into the wrong hands.

Steve McMenara, a spokesman for TAXI, which is a magazine published by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said: "It's a known fact that this is the worst time of year for forgetting `property' at the back of cabs, but especially mobile phones and laptops as they slip onto the floor or get forgotten on the seats as passengers rush onto their next destination with their hands full. More people travel into London to buy their Xmas presents during this period who are not regular cab users, they hop a cab to get back to their train stations - and it's always about an hour later we get a panicked call on their mobile phones asking for them to be returned."

This warning message to the business community - as well as individuals - to be vigilant when travelling with their mobile devices has never been more relevant, especially as more people than ever before are using the latest range of `must have' mobile smartphones to store sensitive personal and business information.

Many of these devices now have the capacity to store as much as 4,000 pictures, 20,000 Word documents, 200,000 emails or an amazing 500,000 contact files, making them an obvious target for identity theft criminals and hackers who can - and do - steal this information and then assume the identity of the user both in their personal and business life.

Sean Glynn , vice president with Credant Technologies said: "We carry out our taxi survey regularly and it's clear that none of us are infallible, especially at this busy time of year, when it's all too easy to forget things when you're travelling."

"Back in the good old days when a Window was something you looked out of, and a Mac was something you wore in the rain, it used to be small items like brollies and briefcases stuffed full of boring office papers. Now it's laptops, smartphone's and thumb drives, all chock-full of valuable information to an identity thief," he added.

"This time of year would appear to be the worst time of year for leaving things at the back of cabs - so our advice is to be more cautious than ever and, as the voice on the train always tells us: check you have all your belongings with you before you leave."

"And if you don't want to worry about the consequences of losing your mobile - with all those embarrassing text messages and pictures - or laptop with valuable personal and company information - then protect that data using encryption and/or passwords. The technology is available, so why not use it?"

If you are to lose your mobile phone or other mobile device then there's no better place than the back of a London taxi to lose it, with 80% of the cabbies claiming that their owners were reunited with them once they found the device at the back of the vehicle.

In a parallel survey which was carried out in the New York, researchers found that the chances of getting your mobile device back was less than in London, with 66% of the cabbies handing them into the depots at the end of the day.

Not just mobiles forgotten…but diamonds, a baby, a sawn off shotgun, 12 dead pheasants, 2 dogs, 1 cat, toilet seats and funeral ashes …

Over the last few years of the taxi survey, cabbies have recalled - with some amusement - a variety of strange and unusual objects in the back of their cabs at the end of the shift.

These have included a wedge of money that came to £2,700 - and which found its way back to its rightful and presumably very happy owner - 12 dead pheasants and a casket of funeral ashes, to mention but a few. And that is before we get to the cabbies that found items such as false teeth, artificial limbs, pork chops and a bra in the back of their taxi!

One lady taxi driver recalls an incident a few years back when she got a nice surprise, after she found that Jemima Khan had forgotten her iPod, mobile phone and purse and left them in the back of her cab.

When she got a phone call to return it to Jemima's friend, she was delighted that the friend turned out to be none other than movie star Hugh Grant, who kindly gave her his autograph as a thank-you.

So, if you don't want to risk a virtual custard (or should that be blackberry?) pie in the face from family, friends or employer, heed the message and protect both your device and yourself.

Credant Technologies suggest some things you can do to make sure if you do lose your mobile phone, smartphone or other mobile device such as a laptop you don't lose your entire personal and corporate identity with it?

* Tip One - Back-up your mobile device regularly.

* Tip Two - If you have important and sensitive company data on your mobile device get your IT department to encrypt it - they can do this remotely - meaning only you can read it!

* Tip Three - Use a strong password on all your devices which combine numbers, letters and symbols.

* Tip Four - Put your name and number with details of a reward on your device if found and returned.

* Tip Five - Use your devices security features - such as the Personal Identification Number (PIN) number which only you know to stop others getting access to it!

* Tip Six - Use your head - don't keep data on your laptop or mobile phone that others could use against you - such as revealing pictures.

* Tip Seven - Don't save old SMS or emails on your handset that you don't need anymore - you'd be surprised how many people keep their default password emails on their mobiles and other hugely sensitive information like PINs, bank account details or passwords!

* Tip Eight - Check your message folders such as drafts, saved and outbox as there will be lots of information you just don't need to keep there. Look at your call list - delete any numbers you no longer need.

* Tip Nine - Physically mark your handset with personal information. This will greatly reduce the second-hand value of the mobile if it is stolen.

* Tip Ten - Record your IMEI: Every mobile phone has a unique 15-digit electronic serial number that can be referenced by dialling *#06#.

* Tip Eleven - Notify your network carrier AND the police immediately in the event of loss or theft. Tell them your IMEI number and any other identifying features on your phone. (PS - If the device contains company data - emails, customer or employee records, documents, etc. - inform your employer also. You/They may be required to inform the appropriate authorities or a potential data breach)

* Tip Twelve - Don't leave your device open to access (e.g. leaving Bluetooth or WiFi on, visible and unsecured).
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