We all love that we can carry around information on USB drives, SD cards and our mobile devices. It’s very convenient and makes life easier. But as technology becomes smaller and more portable, it’s easier to lose. A survey from 2009 in the UK found that 4,500 USB memory sticks were left in pockets of clothes sent to dry cleaners. Years ago people would leave only cash and coins in their pockets. Now a dry cleaner might find someone’s tax records or patient data on a USB drive.
And it’s not just things we leave in our pockets. People leave laptops, phones, iPods and host of other devices in bathrooms, hotels, waiting areas and restaurants.
The UK’s Data Protection Act could cost someone fines of up to £500,000 ($765,000) for a data breach. Most states in the US have similar data breach notification laws and penalties. The maximum civil penalty from the US Department of Health and Human Services for a data breach occurring after February 18, 2009 is $1.5 million. There are similar laws and penalties in many countries.
Before leaving with sensitive information, encrypt the device and the information on it. That way you can be sure that your dry cleaner is only cleaning your clothes and not costing you a fine.
Photo credit iluetkeb