A survey of dry cleaners in the UK has found that more than 17,000 USB sticks were left behind in 2010.

More than 500 dry cleaners and launderettes in the UK were asked during December 2010 and January 2011 about removable media that was left behind. Estimated figures suggested that there was an increase on the number of USB sticks left in dry cleaners of more than 400 per cent when compared with figures from 2009, and almost double from what was found in 2008.

Sean Glynn, vice president of marketing at Credant Technologies, who conducted the research, said that the results were 'staggering'.

“Inevitably, unsuspecting consumers leave USB sticks behind, creating a potential risk for their employers if these devices have proprietary information on them and end up in the hands of criminals,” he said.

“Such technologies are available today in the market, offering the centralised detection, encryption, auditing and compliance reporting that organisations need to ensure the protection of their data. With the best intentions in the world, the reality is devices are often left behind and the information they contain could be devastating if disclosed. Organisations need to plan for this when developing their security strategies.”