The annual lost BYOD holiday nightmare is almost upon us

Credit: flickr photo by 5of7

Security is arguably the top concern of IT professionals when it comes to employees using their own devices for work.

Which is why the holiday shopping season can be extra-stressful for IT pros tasked with locking down enterprise data assets -- it turns out that workers also are shoppers, and they lose stuff!

A new survey by data-protection vendor Credant Technologies shows that 67% of mobile devices lost at major shopping malls over the past year went missing in the period from Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) through December.

And we're talking a lot of mobile devices -- 5,754 devices total in 15 of the largest 44 malls in the U.S. According to Credant, that's double the number of lost devices from the same survey last year.

Using some napkin math, nearly 12,000 mobile devices were lost in the 44 largest malls during last year's holiday season. And that's just in malls. (I'm looking forward to the data on bars.)

Obviously IT pros can't accompany their work colleagues on holiday shopping expeditions, but now would be a good time for a reminder memo/email/text/tweet about the importance of protecting the organization's data residing on (or accessible via) their personal devices.

That memo might include:

1. A tribute to the benefits of shopping online (where the odds of a device getting lost drop dramatically).

2. A plea to never, ever put down a smartphone or tablet on a table in a mall food court. (According to the survey, 40% of mobile devices left behind in malls were found in food courts.)

3. A reminder of the importance of safeguarding your personal device with a long, unique password.

4. A reminder of the importance of encrypting data. Yes, it's a hassle, you can write to employees, but if they want the convenience of using their own devices for work, they should be willing to take extra steps to secure work-related data.

5. A reminder that if they lose their personal devices, you'll zap it with the "remote kill" service you (should have) installed on the phone.

Credant also reports that a shopper at one mall left behind a chandelier. But that's probably not an IT concern.

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