Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Study: Over 600,000 Laptops lost and stolen at Airports

Dell commissioned a study which suggests a huge number of laptop computers are lost at US Airports. The MacWorld summary says that some 637,000 laptops are lost in Airports each year, most at TSA security checkpoints (!).

This last item make me somewhat suspicious of the methodology of the study by Ponemon. If people are forgetting laptops at security it should be easy to return to the checkpoint and recover them since they'd both be on the "passed" side of the equation. If they continued with travel I suppose it would be hard to contact TSA and identify the machine given unless the TSA is really ineffectively processing lost items.

My initial guess is that the sample size on the study was low and the questionaire biased to increase the "lost" factor, though I'll try to look into this remarkable study. 637k laptops would have a value approaching $500,000,000 making this a huge economic and security issue since the study also suggested the computers have a lot of confidential company data.

If these are getting stolen who is doing this? TSA people? That seems very unlikely, and the idea that people are *forgetting their laptops* at checkpoints also seems dubious. The idea that strangers in line are stealing the units also seems unlikely as a crook would not be likely to "hang out" at airport security checkpoints, though I suppose this is possible.