The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) habits of London’s commuters could be putting huge amounts of their employers’ data at risk of loss or theft, new research has found.
According to a Freedom of Information request submitted to Transport for London (TfL), the city’s residents lost a total of 25,000 smartphones, tablets and laptops while riding the capital’s trains, buses and taxis last year.
Not surprisingly, the majority of said devices were smartphones: more than 21,000 handsets were misplaced through the 12-month period, of which over 12,000 were left on buses and 7,000 on trains. Around 750 of the devices lost were laptops, while Londoners were also guilty of misplacing close to 675 tablets on their travels.
ViaSat, the company that filed the Freedom of Information request, told Infosecurity magazine that the actual number of devices lost in London could be much higher – the TfL data only covers gadgets that were found and handed in to the transport authority.
Chris McIntosh, the chief executive of its UK arm, blamed BYOD for driving up the figures and thereby increasing the chances of corporate data loss.
“The simple fact is that, human nature being what it is, businesses cannot prevent individuals from using their own devices,” he said. “What this means is an increase in devices that are outside of IT’s full control and therefore that can easily present a security risk if the correct measures aren’t taken.”
Mr McIntosh went on to urge that employers act to curb the risk of BYOD-related data loss by keeping mission-critical information off mobile devices’ local flash storage in the first place, potentially through the use of thin client setups.
Of course, the nature of BYOD can make this hard to enforce, so businesses in the capital and beyond would also be well advised to include employee-owned smartphones, tablets and laptops in their data backup and erasure plans.
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