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Thousands of USB sticks get left behind at the dry cleaner's

Do you often forget to take out any cash from your pockets before throwing your pants in the dry cleaner? We’ve all been there at least a couple of times, but security firm ESET decided to take things a step further and asked more than 500 dry cleaners and launderettes in the UK what they usually find.

Interesting stuff – mobile phones and memory sticks often get left behind, and even more interesting is that in 45 per cent of the cases – the devices never get returned to their owners.

On average, each dry cleaner will find four USB sticks every year. Last year, 22,266 USB sticks and 973 mobile phones were left behind.

“It is a huge concern that so many devices are being completely forgotten about by their owners, particularly in light of the fact that stories about the loss of crucial information is creating news headlines every day,” said Mark James, security specialist at ESET. “However, what is most astounding about the research is the fact that so many devices never actually get returned to their owners. The chances are most of these devices will end up getting thrown in the bin and who knows where they will end up after that.”

Here’s what else people found:

  • A dead rat
  • Multiple doses of Viagra
  • Numerous condoms
  • £1600 in cash
  • Dentures
  • Lasagne & chips

“Data is of high value on the dark net and cybercriminals will always be on the lookout for anything they can find. Out of the 10,004 USBs that never got returned, one can assume that a high percentage of them would have contained sensitive corporate data. This therefore creates a potential risk for UK businesses because there is a high chance these devices have ended up in the hands of cyber criminals,” continued James.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in writing various types of content, from blogs, whitepapers, and reviews to ebooks, and many more, across sites including Al Jazeera Balkans, TechRadar Pro, IT Pro Portal, and CryptoNews.