Venafi: London Olympics, Smartphones Make for Huge Data Breach

Taylor Armerding July 26, 2012
Expected device loss at 2012 Summer Games expected to amount to 214.4 terabytes of data.

About 214 million books worth of corporate and personal data are expected to go missing during the Summer Olympics in London, estimates Venafi, a vendor of Enterprise Key and Certificate Management (EKCM) solutions.

As massive as that potential loss is, however, it is nothing out of the ordinary. More than two-thirds of that amount of data are lost or stolen during any typical two-week period in London.

Perhaps the only good news in the Venafi analysis is that it shows no clear evidence of greater risk of theft at the Olympics -- the estimate is based on the fact that there will be more people in the city during the event, which runs 17 days, from Friday, July 27 to Sunday, Aug. 12.

Venafi estimates that 67,000 phones will be lost or stolen during the Olympics, that about 40% of them will be smartphones, and that those phones will have a capacity of at least eight gigabytes, which would equal about 214.4 terabytes of data.

But that estimate is based on the fact that about 50,000 phones are lost or stolen in the London area during an average two-week period. The number of passengers riding the city's mass transit system is expected to increase by a third, or about one million a day, leading to the estimate of 67,000 phones.

Gregory Webb, vice president of marketing at Venafi, acknowledged that the estimate did not indicate a higher statistical threat of theft. But he said it is still worthwhile to warn those attending the Olympics. "People tend to be less focused on security, and would-be hackers are on the lookout for easy prey," he said.

Webb also said the statistics do not break down the percentages of devices that are lost as opposed to stolen, but said the risk is the same. "The likelihood of that device and data being taken care of is very low."