Laptop Theft: Is Your SMB Prepared?

Paul Mah

I've written a number of blogs recently on how to achieve better information security for small and mid-sized businesses. Among others, I made the recommendation that SMBs should protect laptops with full-disk encryption software and usesecure flash drives to protect the information carried on portable storage devices.


As you can imagine, my interested was piqued when I read about a story on Infosec Island contributed by security analyst Robert Siciliano, aptly titled "My laptop security travel ordeal." While on a holiday trip to Mexico, Siciliano had to leave his laptop bag in the front of the car so he could join his wife at the back seat during the airport-to-hotel leg of his trip. Well, the action starts when he arrived at the hotel:

When we got to the resort we were swarmed with hotel help/bellmen pulling our bags out of the van. As I'm counting bags and counting kids and on my way back to the van to get my 2 other bags, the van drove away.
My laptop and backpack were still in the front seat. ON THE FRONT SEAT. There is no way the driver didn't see the laptop on the front seat.

To cut the story short, Siciliano managed to recover the bags from the dishonest and recalcitrant driver about 40 minutes later by tracking him down through a colleague. While the laptop was intact, his bags had clearly been rummaged through.


The moral of the story here is simple: The potential for theft is always present, and the sheer portability of laptops and netbooks mean that they could literally be gone in 60 seconds; and often in a far shorter span of time. Even if recovered eventually, who is to say that the data on an unprotected laptop will not have already been compromised and copied out?


Ultimately, SMBs must not take security for granted. Laptops and portable storage devices can get lost or stolen at any time. While nobody wants that to happen, it is imperative that confidential data is backed up properly and securely protected when it does (not "if" here). Fortunately, security awareness is increasing in SMBs at least, according to a recent survey by Symantec.


So tell me, what does your SMB do to protect company files that are stored on laptops?


And while we're on the topic of laptops, you might be interested to check out an earlier blog titled "Seven Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Laptop."

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 15, 2010 11:33 AM Computer Batteries Computer Batteries  says:

-The other benefit with making sure your computers are protected before you travel and is that in such situations where you are likely to have your valuables stolen you are able to think more clearly and make better decisions because you are not excessively worried about what could happen to your valuables.  So as always, an ounce of cure is worth a pound of protection.

Jul 16, 2010 12:28 PM Ashley_Absolute Ashley_Absolute  says:

Thank you Paul-this is a great post!

SMBs should definitely not take laptop security for granted.  In this day and age we're almost always on the move.  Whether for business or a family vacation, our laptops often come with us.  As a result, we open ourselves to increased threats and compromising situations in airports, cafes, and taxis.  Even our own workplaces can pose a certain risk.

As an employee of Absolute Software (www.absolute.com), I am particularly passionate about this topic.  It is important for organizations to understand both the value and the risk associated with laptops and other mobile devices.  Once identified, there are many precautions that can be taken to minimize that risk and prevent sensitive data from being compromised if a device is ever stolen.

Aug 8, 2010 9:03 AM laptop laptop  says:

Nowadays laptop has become fashion for young  generation, so young is very curious to invest the money to buy the laptop. 


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