Saturday, January 08, 2011

Laptop larceny

A statistic in the WSJ yesterday was startling. An article on cloud computing, promoting the virtues of remote storage, stated "One study found that some 10,278 laptops are reported "lost" every week at 36 of the largest U.S. airports, subjecting companies to embarrassment and financial risk if important information is exposed."

No kidding. What was startling though was that number. If accurate, that means that well over a half million laptops are stolen or lost each year at the major airports. Add all other U.S. airports and the tendency of airlines and airports to minimize any loss, and the number could conceivevably be much higher.

It came as no surprise as I thought about the process of going through security. Give up your laptop, separately and out of a case, take off your shoes, your belt, anything in your pockets, get zapped and possibly frisked, and think about where your laptop is the entire time. It's a feast for agile thieves and any conspiring low wage screeners, either at the checkpoint or shortly after leaving as the discompulated traveler reorganizes.

What an enormous loss of property given the cost of laptops and what a huge opportunity for organized crime or just savvy lone hackers to make one's life miserable in a way that could be immeasurably greater than the immediate monetary loss.

Guess that this is just another tale from the annals of the evolution of the United States back to the structural and cultural model of an emerging market.


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