How many mobile devices have you lost?


Business_computer_204741One reason that big corporations give for being slow to adopt mobile devices for employees is the ease of losing the device.  I always thought they were just using that as a cop-out for adopting new technology but this statement on InformationWeek just blew me away:

Most startling stat I heard: One NewYork-based financial services firm loses one laptop per day and fivesmartphones per day in taxicabs, says John Pironti, chief informationrisk strategist for the consulting firm Getronics. A common outcome:The cab companies sell off the gear after 30 days. How that’s for riskybusiness?

If this is true their IT staff must be the most miserable in the industry.


Dave Beauvais

I had an old Casio B.O.S.S. organizer stolen way back in high school, but nothing since then. Where I work, we have a number of users whose notebooks were stolen from cars in restaurant or other parking lots. One user has “lost” a notebook twice. Some of the thefts have involved the potential for disclosure of Social Security Numbers or other restricted data and have led to rather costly notifications and offers of credit protection to potentially affected people.

More important than the device itself is the data on it. The organization for which I work has recently mandated that ALL portable devices, whether they contain sensitive or restricted data or not, be fully encrypted. The law is written such that no disclosure of data theft must be made if the data is encrypted, and the only way to ensure that is to encrypt the entire drive. As someone in an IT department which has to actually implement this type of thing, it’s a serious pain in the butt on an enterprise scale.

The company described in that article — a *financial company*, no less — should be exposed by name so that those persons who do business with it might be made aware that the financial information they share with the company could be sold, quite literally, to the highest bidder when the cab company sells the devices the employees so frequently lose. Devices can be replaced, at a cost, but the data exposed when a device is lost or stolen can have much broader costs associated which affect countless other people or organizations. Companies and employees must be made accountable for these loses if they are ever going to improve.

My experience over the years is that unless a person has a personal financial stake in the well-being of the device, it’s likely to be treated about as well as the typical rental car. Tossed into an unpadded briefcase without a thought, checked in airline baggage, dropped, sat on, left unattended in a car in plain view, etc. Two things will help: user education regarding proper care of the device AND THE DATA IT CONTAINS, and a financial stake in its replacement should it be lost or stolen due to carelessness.

If a person has to personally pay for some or all of the replacement cost, you can bet most folks would pay much more attention to where they set things, whether they have them when they leave, and what they are exposing to the next person who sits down in the seat.

Sorry for the rant, but this hit very close to home, so to speak.


I have lost tonnes of styluses, and headphones (and bits of headphones) but i’ve managed to avoid losing the devices themselves – though I had a close call when I dropped my PDA at the parking lot – fortunately it was still next to my car!


I’ve only really ever lost one Jabra Bluetooth headset off my belt clip and one 15MB CompactFlash card that I was carrying in my pocket. Never the actual computing device or phone.


I lost a Verizon V60C due to breakage. (It dropped off my belt and when it fell, the LCD screen cracked.

I had insurance, though, so it wasn’t a total loss.



I lost a month old Imate Jamin of my belt while connecting through Ohare once. Boy was I mad!

Don't Panic!

I lost a t68i on the bus once. Called the number, offered the finder a reward and he still didn’t return it. I ended up spending the $50 BestBuy Gift card myself.


In 12 years if using mobile tech, I have lost one Palm Pilot at an Airport. That was 8 years ago.

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