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2012 Olympics Will See Loss or Theft of 67,000 Mobile Phones in London

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Many of us have lost a mobile phone, or had one stolen at some point. We've seen friends on Facebook or Twitter send out the all-too-familiar message of 'I've lost my phone, please can you all send me your numbers'. We know the disruption it causes personally. But what is the real scale of the problem? How many phones and how much information does get lost?

Let's take the Olympics as an example. Athletes, organisers and tourists are currently flocking to London for the games, and the population of the city is expected to swell by a third, with an extra million people using the tube every day.

The number of smartphones and other portable networked devices has exploded over the past few years and we have calculated that 67,000 mobile phones are likely to be lost or stolen during the Olympics in London.

Given that an estimated 40% of all mobile devices, or approximately 26,800 of those lost, are smartphones, the risk of data loss and data theft during the Olympic Games is high. This means that a total of 214.4 terabytes--or the equivalent of 214.4 million books--will likely be lost or otherwise end up in the wrong hands during the Olympic Games. These figures do not include the even-larger data volumes at risk from the loss or theft of other mobile devices, such as laptops and tablets.

The recent BYOD (bring your own device) phenomenon means that more people are carrying more personally-owned devices at any given time than ever before. These powerful, network-enabled devices can access, process and store a great deal of data, much of it valuable and often-regulated business data.

There's been an explosion of corporate data available to users from their mobile devices. This is a real danger and one that is often overlooked. People don't consider or take action to protect the vast volumes of information they carry and have internet access to. With the ever-shrinking boundaries between work devices and work-enabled personal devices, lost or stolen smartphones and other mobile devices that fall into the wrong hands place companies and business data at tremendous risk.

Organisations with users who can access corporate information, systems and applications remotely from mobile devices should have sound policies and device management systems in place. To help reduce mobile-access risks, I also recommend that enterprises leverage encryption and digital certificates--with sound key and certificate-management capabilities--to ensure proper authentication and data protection.