You'd think that a national military scandal would be enough to convince people to take a little care with portable storage devices, but apparently not.
Sitting in the Qantas Club in Sydney earlier last week, I heard the following ominous announcement: "If anyone has left their memory stick in a computer workstation, could they please see staff at the business centre reception."
Now, leaving aside the dodgy terminology (last time I checked, the PCs in that lounge supported USB keys, but not Sony's proprietary Memory Stick format), it's easy to see why working on documents stored on portable media is popular.
It's certainly much more appealing, and kinder to your shoulder, than lugging a notebook computer everywhere and removing it from your case every time you pass through a security barrier.
However, the notebook has one big advantage: it's valuable enough that you'll probably take proper care of it. USB keys, on the other hand, are now so ubiquitous that apparently people have no problem leaving them lying around, complete with budgets, confidential reports, family snapshots and goodness knows what else.
The consequences of such carelessness can be fairly drastic. The outstanding example is Brigadier Elizabeth Cosson. Cosson accidentally left a draft report on how the body of Australian soldier Private Jake Kovco got misplaced in a morgue in a Qantas Club computer. From there, it mysteriously found its way to broadcaster Derryn Hinch. In that particular instance, a CD-ROM was at fault.
No wonder IT managers get paranoid. There's a fairly healthy market in management software designed to restrict the use of portable storage media, on the grounds that they make it too easy to steal confidential information.
Some companies have reputedly gone as far as placing glue in the USB ports to stop unauthorised connections.
That sounds patently ridiculous to me, but I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that anyone senior enough to be flying around the country on business can take five seconds to check that they haven't left a USB key plugged in. After all, the plane's probably not leaving without you.