While athletes traveling to London for the Summer Olympic Games are looking to get their hands on the gold medal, spectators should try and keep one hand on their mobile phones. An estimated 67,000 mobile phones are likely to be lost or stolen during the games, according to security experts at Venafi, a provider of enterprise key and certificate-management solutions.
As the number of smartphones and tablets has exploded in recent years, this year's games will see the largest-ever risk of corporate and personal data loss during an Olympics period, with an estimated 214.4 terabytes of potentially sensitive data likely to be lost or stolen--equivalent to 200 million books' worth of data. These figures do not take into consideration the larger data volumes at risk from the loss or theft of other mobile devices, such as notebooks and tablets.
"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," Gregory Webb, Venafi vice president of marketing, said in prepared remarks. "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."
Over any two-week period in London, more than 50,000 mobile phones are lost or stolen; with the area's population expected to swell by a third during the Olympics and an extra million riders on the city's subway lines every day, Venafi anticipates this will lead to an additional 17,000 lost or stolen phones, bringing the possible total to 67,000 during the two-week period. As 40 percent of mobile phones are now smartphones, the company estimated 26,800 of the lost or stolen devices are likely to be smartphones.
Venafi also noted the recent bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon means that more people are carrying more personally owned devices at any given time than ever before. However, these network-enabled devices can access, process and store a great deal of data, much of it valuable and often-regulated business data, which can cause huge headaches for IT departments if the devices are lost or stolen.
"Organizations with users who can access corporate information, systems and applications remotely from mobile devices should have sound policies and device-management systems in place," the report noted. "To help reduce mobile-access risks, Venafi also recommends that enterprises leverage encryption and digital certificates with sound certificate-management capabilities to ensure proper authentication and data protection."