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According to telephone interviews with the lost property offices of 15 airports, including Heathrow and Luton, thousands of mobile phones and laptops have been left behind last year, with the majority still unclaimed and many left over the Christmas holiday peak season. This figure is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg as it does not take into account all those devices that were stolen, or kept by the lucky finder.
The survey, carried out by Credant Technologies, also found that in the majority of cases, those devices that arent reclaimed are then either sold at auction or donated to charities. However the fact is that these devices may still contain information that could be available for the new owner! With ID theft from mobile phones and other lost devices at an all-time high, users should really take special care when travelling.
According to a representative at Luton Airport, the most common place devices are forgotten is at the security check point as its a very pressured environment with numerous distractions. Often, once the travelers have boarded the plane and left the country its just too expensive to return for the device, which in most instances will be covered by insurance, resulting in the majority going unclaimed.
But the devices value is the last thing organizations should be worrying about, explains Sen Glynn, VP at Credant Technologies, What is much more concerning are the copious volumes of sensitive data these devices contain often unsecured and easily accessed. Without protecting mobile phones, laptops and even USBs with something even as basic as a password, a malicious third party can have easy access to the corporate network, email accounts and all the files stored on the device including the contact lists. Users also store such things as passwords, bank details and other personal information on the device making it childs play to impersonate the user and steal their identity both personal and corporate.
Seven Top Tips To Secure Travel
1.As you leave - whether its the check-in desk, security check point, or even the train station, make sure you take everything with you, including your mobile devices. A few seconds to check could potentially save you hours of frustration and embarrassment.
2.Protect your mobile device: with at least a password (and ensure that it is a strong one, containing letters, numbers and symbols). Better still, use an encryption solution so that even if your device is left behind, the data on it is not accessible to anyone who finds it.
3.Dont elect to automatically complete online credentials, such as corporate network log in details, so that if you and your device should become separated, it cannot operate without you.
4.Back-up your device and remove any sensitive information that you do not need. If its not there it cant be breached.
5.As in tip 4, remove SMS and emails that you dont need anymore - youd be surprised how many people keep their default password emails on their mobiles and other hugely sensitive information like PINs, bank account details or passwords!
6.Don't leave your mobile device open to access (e.g. leaving Bluetooth or WiFi turned on) somewhere visible and unsecured.
7.Include your name and contact details in the device so that, if it should be lost, it can easily be returned to you. Some operators have a registration service to facilitate this.
Finally, speak to your IT department before you leave the office this year thats what theyre there for. Theyll help make sure your device is better protected should it find itself languishing all alone at the airport.
With cyberspace almost full, it's going to take half a trillion dollars to avoid a global squeeze.
IPV6. It is the ultimate case of procrastination; a problem so big, so complex and so expensive, the world has ignored it for two decades.
The problem: The Internet is full. Well, almost.
It is brimming with more than 4.29 billion websites and addresses for networks, mobile phones, refrigerators and, of course, personal computers at home and at work.
As with anything that exists on the Internet, anything connected to the Internet, and anything transported across the Internet, an address is required called an IP (internet protocol) address that acts like a phone number, allowing every individual device, piece of data or location to be found in the digital labyrinth.
But the existing 32-bit internet routing system, Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), is only capable of hosting 4,294,967,296 addresses. So, when the remaining global pool of some 204 million addresses runs out, as is expected before June, no new devices or websites will be able to connect unless they've transitioned to IPv6, the latest 128-bit incarnation of Internet Protocol, which can store up to a whopping 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 (or 2^128) addresses.
"IPv4 is about 30 years old and when they put it together, they anticipated 4.3 billion addresses would last a long time," says Michael Biber, the president of IPv6 Forum Australia, the local chapter of the global IPv6 Forum charged with spearheading the transition.
"Of course, they couldn't have predicted what would happen with mobile phones and VoIP and social networking, or that we'd use up addresses as fast as we have."
Although the IPv6 Forum has been working on the transition for more than a decade, businesses around the globe have been reticent until now to exploit their efforts.
The biggest issue is that IPv4 and IPv6 don't talk to each other. Though IPv6 devices communicate happily with their less-evolved IPv4 cousins, it doesn't work the other way.
A breakdown is inevitable. It won't be immediate and it won't be dramatic but it will happen, slowly and subtly, as little bits, mostly the newer IPv6 bits of the Internet, fail to appear to anyone still using IPv4 architecture.
The IPv4 Internet and all the devices and sites we're accessing now will still work exactly as they do now, but when IPv6 devices and sites start appearing online, the existing IPv4 infrastructure simply won't be capable of recognising them, and small, random pockets of the new Internet will be inaccessible by older hand-helds, routers, modems, servers and operating systems.
Upgraded websites won't appear on machines running old software and hardware, and even your shiny new IPv6-ready handset will not be able to display your weather update because your telco may not have upgraded its own IPv4 back end.
So, who's in charge of fixing this looming, global problem? Well, you are.
Nobody owns the Internet and, technically, nobody runs it. It is a hodge-podge collection of billions of networks and connections and machines, all based loosely on protocols defined by ad hoc bodies with no official power to do anything, really.
Most governments have delivered mandatory IPv6 upgrade dates for their public services and networks to be made IPv6 compatible, but don't have the authority to force private or corporate citizens to upgrade.
That means all Internet users have to take matters into their own hands and upgrade their own points of connection from the ISPs who need to upgrade their servers to host IPv6-compatible websites and the vendors who need to upgrade their mobile handsets, to mums and dads who may require new modems, wireless routers and IPv6-compatible mobile handsets.
It's like the biggest team effort in the world.
Consumers will likely get away with the smallest dent to their hip pockets.
Thanks to the relatively short product cycle of today's tech gear, when your current hardware becomes too old or too slow, it's simply a matter of upgrading to an IPv6-capable device, which vendors such as NetComm, Billion and Cisco are already selling.
Of course, some hardware and software will be able to be upgraded via a software patch and many items such as Macs, Windows Vista and Windows 7, as well as many corporate-edge devices and any of Apple's iOS 4 devices, are already IPv6-capable. But, says Geoff Huston, the chief scientist for APNIC (Asia Pacific Network Information Centre), the biggest regional allocator of IP addresses globally, the main problem won't be at the consumer end.
"The problem will be the filters, the ISPs and all the bits in the middle that people don't see that aren't capable of running IPv6," he says. "It's the underlying infrastructure that will actually stop the larger numbers of people."
The only parties who stand to make a clear profit from the transition are the hardware vendors selling new IPv6-compatible gear. For everyone else, the upgrade will cost something but there won't be much to show for the investment.
It's everybody's problem but nobody is in charge and because there is no financial advantage to be gained from upgrading to IPv6, nobody really cares. "They're [telcos, ISPs and so on] all thinking that it will cost to upgrade to IPv6," Mr Huston says, "which it will, but I don't get any more money in return, I don't get any more customers and as long as my competitors don't upgrade, I won't either. That's basically what's been happening for the past decade. It's a textbook market failure."
Even with a conservative estimate, Mr Huston says the global costs for the IPv6 upgrade will exceed half a trillion dollars but acknowledges it's a nebulous figure, though he suspects even this staggering estimate may be on the low side.
"There are a number of ways to calculate the transitional costs for IPv6," Mr Huston says. "One way is to take the internet's 1.7 billion users globally and guesstimate about $100 per user for new hardware, which adds to $170 billion.
"I suspect that this is low but it's a tough one to attempt to quantify and I suspect that $200 per user may be closer when you factor in support and new hardware. But it will cost more for some and less for others.
"So, rounding up just a little, maybe half a trillion dollars for the transition globally."
So what to do? Consumers can only worry about their own points of connection. The rest is beyond their control.
Anyone purchasing new hardware or software that has any sort of Internet connection should ask if it is v6-capable, because most modems and routers on the market are not and those devices that are can be costly.
The same philosophy applies to new computers, though by now, they should all be running v6-compatible operating systems.
Similarly, anyone signing up for a new Internet or mobile phone plan, particularly 2-year plans, should ask the same questions.
Is your new hardware (back-end and the devices being deployed in your home or business) IPv6-capable and, if not, will it be upgraded and at what cost to you?
Of course, the biggest question is whether we have learnt from the IPv6 debacle or if we will be having this same discussion 20 years from now.
"Never say never on the Internet," Mr Biber says.
"But the number of IPv6 addresses is so astronomical and unfathomably huge, they will last us a long, long time.
"I'm confident that the basic IPv6 protocol will still be around in 20 years, though I think the Internet will be quite different."
That's what they said 20 years ago.
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