Security research firm and data protection company Pointsec have urged users to adopt the password and encryption capabilities available on mobile devices in order to protect the sensitive information often stored on them. This advice comes in light of a global survey conducted by Pointsec, which shows forgetful customers have a tendency to leave their mobile devices in the back of taxis.
In the last six months alone, the nine-nation survey of taxi companies in Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Great Britain, and the U.S. indicated tens of thousands of digital devices were left behind inadvertently. The U.S. company polled in the survey, a major Chicago cab company, reported the highest rate of losses per taxi of all firms studied for PDAs/Pocket PCs (0.86 per cab), and second in both mobile phones (3.42 per cab) and laptops (0.18 per cab).
Based on the large size of the Chicago company's fleet, the statistics indicate a 85,619 mobile phones, 21,460 PDAs/Pocket PCs, and 4,425 laptops left in the firm's licensed cabs during the six months covered in the study. Only London exceeded Chicago in the rate of PCs lost per cab (0.21), while Copenhagen was tops in mobile phones (7.19 per cab).
The study, sponsored by Pointsec Mobile Technologies, a leading mobile data protection company, was conducted among licensed taxi drivers to gauge the frequency and ease with which small mobile devices are lost in transit. Pointsec first commissioned the study four years ago in London; this year's results indicated a significant worsening in the problem, with 71% more laptops and 350% more Pocket PCs/PDAs being left behind in that city than in 2001.
Not all results of the research were negative, however. Globally, an average of 80% of all passengers were reunited with their mobile phones and 96% with their Pocket PCs/PDAs and laptops-with the cab drivers themselves, in almost all cases, tracking down the owners.
Worst on the list was Sydney, Australia, where only 46% of Down Under passengers bothered to reclaim their mobiles. Only 18% ever reunited with their laptops.
When asked what was the strangest item left in their taxis, drivers around the world had no shortage of bizarre replies. UK taxi drivers admitted to finding a harp, a throne, 100,000 pounds Sterling in diamonds, 37 milk bottles, and a baby. Among the possessions found in Chicago cabs were a violin case, a cat, prescription Viagra, a treasure bond worth $2.5 million, and a prosthetic leg. In Munich, one taxi driver was shocked when he turned around to find his passenger dead.