190k mobile phones a year lost in London taxis

Internet security firm ESET surveyed 300 London black cab drivers and found that on average a driver finds around eight forgotten mobile phones in their taxi each year. Picture: PA
Internet security firm ESET surveyed 300 London black cab drivers and found that on average a driver finds around eight forgotten mobile phones in their taxi each year. Picture: PA
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MORE THAN 190,000 mobile phones are lost in the back of London taxis each year, in what a security firm has called a technology “black hole”.

Internet security firm ESET surveyed 300 London black cab drivers and found that on average a driver finds around eight forgotten mobile phones in their taxi each year, with around half of them not being secured by any type of pin code or other means, leaving private data vulnerable.

Mark James, security specialist at ESET, said: “Today we use our mobiles for a multitude of tasks, whether it’s our online banking or connecting to corporate email systems, and we do not want our devices to fall into the wrong hands.

“Our study shows that despite the huge publicity cybercrime receives in the media today, consumers still do not see themselves as a real target. This is naive and wrong. Cybercriminals are well aware of the fact that our mobiles contain connections to corporate networks and sensitive information and they will take advantage of this.

“Consumers should as an absolute minimum use a password to protect their device in case it is ever lost, however a good security posture would include encryption and a remote wipe facility.”

According to those taxi drivers surveyed, 68 per cent said they would not try to have a snoop on a phone they found in their car.

“While our study has proven just how honest taxi drivers are, sadly not everyone who finds a phone will take the same approach,” said Mr James.

“I imagine the majority of people who find a phone will actually have a look around and see if there is anything of any interest or value to be found. What people need to start asking themselves is - could any of the data held on my mobile compromise me either personally or professionally if it fell into the wrong hands? If the answer is yes, which I expect it will be, then security on your mobile device must be a priority, not an afterthought.”

However, it was not just mobile phones that have been discovered in the back of cabs, other items that have turned up in the last year included £100,000 in stocks and bonds, an inflatable banana, a dog, 400 packets of jelly and a Nato chief’s briefcase.