New BCS campaign to publicise data loss issues

The British Computer Society (BCS) is urging us all to take more care when travelling with portable devices. An advertising campaign has been launched in order to heighten awareness, focusing on the data loss black spot of London. In a recent article at Info Security, BCS Chief Executive David Clarke compared leaving your phone or laptop in a public area to giving a criminal the keys to your front door.

The campaign will target taxicabs as they are the areas most frequently associated with portable device loss. Last year an estimated 55000 phones were abandoned in the back of taxicabs, on top of a further 6000 items and other devices. According to BCS research, the most at risk group is comprised of young, single businesspeople and professionals. However, the recent data loss mistakes by more senior staff such as MI5’s Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick and others suggests that there can be exceptions to this rule.

Data loss is tied integrally to identity theft and the BCS believes that the campaign will help in part to secure data as its portability puts it more at risk each year. Their research followed 300 taxicabs within London. The survey has even been able to highlight at risk areas in which data loss and identity theft are most likely.

Though these findings and the resultant advertising campaign are primarily applicable to taxicabs and Londoners, there is a need for further publicity and awareness nationwide. It is not just mobile phones and laptops which pose a risk in the event of their loss. Memory sticks, briefcases and even single documents can be just as damaging as a whole device, as recent public scandals have revealed.

Clarke reiterated that data loss is damaging to both individuals and corporations as a whole. It follows that data loss prevention techniques and more rigorous security measures protecting portable devices must be adopted when considering data security as a whole. However, this issue must also be addressed on an individual level to encourage people to protect their own data. The BCS campaign is thus a first step in the right direction.

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