Tony Bennett left his heart, others leave mobile devices in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO — A survey done in advance of this week’s RSA Conference found that more than 2,300 mobile devices, including cell phones, tablets and laptops, have been separated from their owners at 20 downtown hotels.

The devices were left behind in hotel guest rooms, bars and lobbies in the Union Square and Financial District, near the Moscone Center where the massive security and crypto conclave is held each year.

The survey, conducted by Credant Technologies, had no word on the number of marriages, careers or weekends that were ruined by these losses, but on average, 45 percent of the devices go unclaimed. One hotel reported that 92 percent of devices it had found were not reclaimed.

Mobile security and access control are hot topics in IT security right now, but it is easy to forget that there also are low-tech threats to the latest technology.

The survey “demonstrates the need for people on the move to be vigilant about mobile data security,” said Darren Shimkus, Credant senior vice president of marketing.

If a device is used for work or other sensitive purposes, he recommended that they be password protected and encrypted.

The lost device figures are in line with another study that showed San Francisco to be the third most cyber-risky U.S. city. (Washington was the riskiest city, followed by Seattle, which had been number one in 2010.)

The study by Symantec’s Norton Internet Security and Sperling’s BestPlaces ranked the cities based on a variety of behavioral and environmental factors. San Francisco reported high numbers of WiFi hotspots and long hours spent online.

The Credant survey found that 1,882, or 81 percent, of the devices lost in hotels were smart phones or tablets. Twelve percent, or 267 devices, were laptops and 167, just seven percent, were USB drives. The summer vacation season and convention times were the peak periods for losses.

The survey included 20 San Francisco and South San Francisco hotels. Another 19 hotels declined to participate.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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