New research revealed by encryption solutions firm Credant Technologies found that 3,844 laptops and 5,100 mobile phones were left at 15 UK airports in the run up to Christmas last year.
However, the figures may not reflect the actual number of items left behind by travellers as they do not take into account the selection of devices that are left unreported or picked up by thieves and stolen on-site.
The research found that the majority of laptops are not reclaimed and end up being sold at auction or donated to charities. However, this may be a cause for concern as many of the mobile computers still contain personal information and data.
A spokesperson from Luton airport said holiday-makers tend to forget their laptops at the security check point due to surrounding distractions. The expense of returning back to the UK after the plane has set off means that many people do not return to collect their device.
However, Seán Glynn, vice president of marketing at Credent Technologies, said the value of a laptop should be the last thing travellers are worried about.
He said: “What is much more concerning are the copious volumes of sensitive data these devices contain – often unsecured and easily accessed. Without protecting mobile phones, laptops and even USBs with something even as basic as a password, a malicious third party can have easy access to the corporate network, email accounts and all the files stored on the device including the contact lists”.
He continued: “Users also store such things as passwords, bank details and other personal information on the device making it child’s play to impersonate the user and steal their identity – both personal and corporate”.
The firm has advised laptop users to protect their devices with a strong password containing letters, numbers and symbols. It also suggested that people should not elect to be automatically logged into personal accounts when they turn their computer on in case it gets stolen.
Other suggestions were to back up files and use encryption tools so that private details cannot be accessed by others.