Security being taken to the cleaners

Security appears to be all washed up, as USB sticks with sensitive data are being left regularly in pockets when workers take their clothes to be cleaned at laundrettes.

If you're after sensitive data for any reason, a laundrette could be a great place to go find it.

This is according to a survey from Credant Technologies, who claims that 9,000 USB sticks have been forgotten and left in pockets of clothes taken to dry cleaners.

Thes figures were obtained from phone interviews with 500 dry cleaners across the UK, who found an average of two USB keys per year. Extrapolating this to the 4,500 dry cleaners in the UK leads to the 9,000 figure.

Data sticks are most frequently found in city centres and commuter areas with one proprietor in the City of London finding 80 memory sticks in 2008 alone.

It's not just valuable data that's left in pockets. Other valuable items discovered include a gold Rolex watch and an envelope filled with diamonds.

This follows on from a survey conducted in September last year that found that over six thousand portable devices, such as laptops, mobiles and memory sticks are left in the back of taxis every six months.

The issue that this highlights once again is that devices need to have encryption to protect the data they contain in the highly likely event that they are lost.

A spokeswoman for Credant Technologies told IT PRO that it was the responsibility of companies to ensure that employees took data issues seriously. "Memory keys are a way of life but we're all infallible and they will get lost - in pubs, taxis, laundrettes. [Therefore] you have to take an executive decision to have security guidelines on what can and can't be downloaded [to USB memory sticks]. You need to have a policy in place otherwise it will create a headache. Staff just have to be trained.

"People often think that the data they're carrying isn't valuable but in the wrong hands it can be, so you have to look at it sensibly."

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