Security warning over smartphones and laptops left behind by drinkers

Security warning over smartphones and laptops left behind by drinkers

More than half of the mobile phones and laptops left behind in bars do not have any security settings installed, leaving their sensitive content open to anyone who finds them, according to new research.

Internet security firm Eset found that more than 138,000 devices are left by drinkers each year, with 64% of them not having any security in place to protect the data they contain.

Indeed, nearly two-thirds (60%) of those who had found a device in a bar admitted having a look through it, the research claimed.

However, Eset also found that 83% of lost items were reunited with their owner.

Eset security specialist Mark James said: "As we head into the festive season, offices will be preparing for Christmas parties, which will inevitably involve alcohol consumption and people dropping their guard more than usual.

"This could also mean people taking work laptops and mobile phones along to parties and, based on the figures from our study, accidentally forgetting them when they leave for home. While the majority of the devices in our study do get returned to their owners, there is still a high chance that those with no security protection are accessed by intruders.

"As our laptops and mobile phones begin to carry more and more sensitive information and are linked to bank and work accounts, there is a greater need to protect them because the risks are much higher should the devices ever fall into the wrong hands."

The research - which involved more than 600 bars in the UK - also uncovered some of the more unusual items that had been left behind in the last year. These included an urn containing someone's ashes, a tree, an inflatable sheep and a large portrait of a horse.

Though most devices were successfully returned, Mr James said users were still not taking security seriously enough.