Only half of lost USB sticks are returned to owners. What happens to the others?

by Lucia Danes - -

ESET, the Internet security company based in the United Kingdom has conducted a research about USB sticks and other mobile handsets and dry cleaners. According to their findings, dry cleaners’ customers have left 22,266 USB memory sticks and 973 smartphones in their dirty clothes pockets each year. lost usb

However, the study revealed that only about 53% of left devices were returned to their real owners, so what happened to the others?

The study was conducted in the United Kingdom. 500 dry cleaners were surveyed by the security firm ESET in order to research the number of found USB sticks and other mobile gadgets in dirty clothes over last year.[1]

According to the findings, an average dry cleaner finds about four USB sticks every year and about 45% of lost USBs are never returned to their owners.

There is a concern that such a big percentage of found devices are forgotten by the owners, especially while so many stories about lost important information are publicized on media almost every day. However, the biggest concern is that so many USBs never get back to their owners. The highest chances are that most of these forgotten devices will end up in the bin.

In addition, other findings of the study revealed interesting and strange items that dry cleaners have found in dirty clothes annually. Some of them include:

  • Doses of Viagra
  • Numerous condoms
  • A dead rat
  • £1,600 in cash
  • Lasagne and chips
  • Dentures

Even though some of these items are relatively important to their owners, some – amusing, the frequency was irreducible in comparison with items such USB sticks or mobile devices.

A number of USB sticks and other gadgets that consumers leave in pockets of their dirty clothes at dry cleaners is shocking, also it underlines that people should pay more attention to their data and its security.

The study could be seen as a wake-up call for people to take an account of the protection of their data. Especially, when it comes to data breaches against high profile corporations and businesses. In addition, cybercriminals are always looking for anything they can find and use for their own benefits.[2]

As an assumption, it is worth mentioning, that there is a high chance that one out of the 10,004 lost and never returned USB sticks could have contained a sensitive corporate information. Therefore, this also increases the threat to businesses due to the possibility of ending up in hackers’ hands.


About the author

Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Malware and spyware analyst

Lucia Danes is a news editor at She is extremely passionate when it comes to helping people deal with various online threats, so she wants her articles to be understood even by those with no IT background.

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