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Freedom of Information requests made by a security and communications product company have found that, while London represents the lion’s share of electronic devices thefts in the UK, a thief seems more likely to steal them in Leicestershire or the West Midlands than in the capital.
While thefts of devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets that could store sensitive personal information accounted for 27 per cent of thefts reported to the Metropolitan and City of London police, they formed 31 per cent of thefts reported to West Midlands Police, and 51 per cent of those in Leicestershire – compared to an average of 19 per cent nationwide. Compared to similar research from a year ago, where London was the undisputed champion of device thefts by number and proportion, other areas of the country are no longer the havens they once seemed, according to ViaSat Inc.
Chris McIntosh, CEO ViaSat UK, said: “Whether a corporate smartphone, a personal tablet, or your bank manager’s laptop, there is a huge amount of information stored on electronic devices that can compromise our privacy. The simple fact is that, for many thieves, the most tempting target isn’t necessarily the device itself, but what it contains. From access to your bank records; to blackmail; to flat-out identity theft, a lost or stolen device can still damage its owner long after it’s stolen. As the largest city in the UK, with the most visitors, London will have a disproportionate number of thefts. But as we can see from these results, wherever you are in the UK you need to not only be wary of your own devices; but make sure that anyone who records and stores your sensitive data does so responsibly and securely.”
Compared to a similar request the previous year, there was also a noticeable reduction in reported thefts. The Metropolitan and City of London police combined showed that thefts of electronic devices had fallen 37 per cent from the number reported last year to the Metropolitan Police alone. Nationwide, there was a 34 per cent fall. This coincided with a drop in the number of thefts in total, which fell by 20 per cent in London and 24 per cent nationwide.
Chris McIntosh added: “Any reduction in theft is good news: not only due to the initial pain, but also the reduced risk of personal data falling into the wrong hands. However, two years’ worth of data isn’t yet enough to begin drawing conclusions that our streets are getting safer. And evidently, with thefts of sensitive data still in the tens of thousands, there is still a significant amount of data at risk. While we as individuals should do what we can to ensure that data stored on our personal devices is protected to an appropriate level, we need to expect the same level of commitment from those we entrust our data to. Whether a doctor, a solicitor, a banker or a charity worker, they should be compelled to keep your information under lock and key.”
About ViaSat UK
ViaSat produces satellite and other communications products; visit www.viasat.com.