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The PDA Usage Survey for 2003, conducted for PointSec Mobile Technologies by ComputerWeeklymagazine and Reed Exhibitions, confirms that corporate employees frequently download all sorts of personal and business content onto their personal digital assistants (PDAs) without password protection or encryption. This is quite problematical, given that Garnter Inc. has concluded that PDAs are lost or stolen at an alarming rate. For example, in United States alone in 2001, 350,000 laptops, 35,000 hand-held computer devices, and 232,000 mobile phones were lost or stolen. As a result, sensitive personal and business data often ends up in the wrong hands. POPULAR PDA USES PDAs are used for a variety of purposes. The PDA Usage Survey reveals the following ten most popular PDA functions among users: – Business diary (85 percent of users) – Business names and addresses storage (80 percent of users) – Personal names and addresses storage (79 percent of users) – Personal diary (75 percent of users) – Entertainment, such as games or music (48 percent of users) – Document/spreadsheet creation (35 percent) – Password/PIN storage (33 percent) – Email (32 percent) – Bank account information storage (25 percent) – Corporate information storage (25 percent) UNPROTECTED SENSITIVE INFORMATION Often times, unprotected information stored on PDAs is highly sensitive. This information can include proprietary corporate data and trade secrets; bank account and credit card numbers; social security numbers; tax data; personal and business contacts, along with names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses; personal and business passwords; and PIN numbers. According to the survey, 41 percent of users utilize their PDAs to access corporate networks, with 25 percent of them bypassing the password function. Moreover, 57 percent of users neglect to encrypt corporate data on their PDAs. As a consequence, unauthorized persons can use these PDAs to access corporate networks while assuming the identities of the users. MISSING PDAS Unfortunately, the highly portable nature of PDAs means that they are easily lost or stolen. Indeed, as shown by the survey, more than 40 percent of users have lost a cell phone, and as many as 25 percent have lost a laptop, hand held device or both. The easiest place to lose a PDA is in taxis (40 percent), followed by bars, restaurants and nightclubs (20 percent). About half of users do not insure their PDAs, while only 2 percent of them insure the data held on the devices. On top of this, a whopping 73 percent of companies do not have specific security policies for mobile devices. WAKE UP Until a PDA is lost or stolen, a user may not be cognizant of the lurking danger of missing sensitive data (not to mention the annoyance of having to replace a device). But once a PDA is lost or stolen, and sensitive information is commandeered by others, the user is in for a rude wake up call. Better that PDA users and companies that employ them wake up in advance. Serious consideration should be given to insuring not only PDAs, but also the data contained in them. Also, passwords and encryption should be used. Finally, hold onto your devices, so that they are not left in taxis, restaurants and bars! Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris (, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology disputes. Mr. Sinrod’s Web site is, and he can be reached at [email protected] . To receive a weekly e-mail link to Mr. Sinrod’s columns, please send an e-mail with the word Subscribe in the subject line to [email protected] .

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