Study: 800,000 laptops lost each year in airports

A new research study conducted by the Ponemon Institute for computer manufacturing titan Dell Inc., has revealed that more than 800,000 laptop systems are misplaced each year by computer users passing through airports across the United States and Europe.

What’s perhaps more concerning -- at least from a business standpoint -- is that Ponemon outlined that approximately half of the mobile professionals it polled for the study admitted to carrying confidential company data on their computers without implementing the appropriate steps to ensure its protection.

Commissioned by Texas-based Dell to highlight the launch appeal of its ProSupport Mobility Services, the study revealed that hundreds of thousands of the 63 million laptops purchased by business organisations in 2008 “will be lost, go missing or left unattended” at airports.

The study also noted that around 57 percent of those missing laptop computers will ultimately find their way back to airport lost and found departments, where, amazingly, they will remain largely unclaimed.

The Ponemon Institute found that in excess of 3,300 laptops are misplaced or go missing from the eight largest airports throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa every week. The study offers that a lack of clear external identification labelling on missing hardware is a major factor in the poor lost and found retrieval rate.

In terms of individual airports and their connected losses, London Heathrow leads the way in Europe with 900 losses per week, while Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle follow close behind with 750 and 733 losses respectively. According to Ponemon, around 12,000 laptops are lost, go missing, or are stolen each week in U.S. airports.

“It’s staggering to learn that more than 175,000 laptops are lost or go missing in the major European airports every year, with many containing sensitive information that organisations must account for,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “IT departments must re-evaluate the steps they’re taking to protect mobile professionals, the laptops they carry and company data stored on mobile devices.”

Dell’s ProSupport Mobility Services is a suite of modular asset and data protection services designed to aid business organisations in providing proper (loss) protection for their (missing) laptop computers and any potentially sensitive company information attached to them.

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