If you’ve lost a USB stick you may want to check your pockets, after research reveals a staggering 22,266 USB sticks a year are found in dirty clothes sent to the dry cleaners.

A survey of 500 dry cleaners around the UK found that on average each shop finds four USB sticks a year.

Despite high-profile news stories about data theft, 45% of these USB sticks were never claimed. This means there are over 10,000 unclaimed USB sticks in the UK, despite some undoubtedly containing sensitive information, potentially risking UK businesses.

This is something that concerns Mark James, security specialist at ESET: “The chances are most of these devices will end up getting thrown in the bin and who knows where they will end up after that.

“Data is of high value on the dark net and cybercriminals will always be on the lookout for anything they can find” he said.

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In a reminder of how important it is to check your clothes before handing them over, the study found that 973 phones were left in pockets.

Even more bizarre, dry cleaners have reported finding £1,600 in cash, dentures, lasagne and chips, and even a dead rat.

The research was conducted by ESET. The ESET Parental Control app is available for Android phones and tablets.

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