Laptop Theft is Still a Big Problem

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Seven Tips to Improve the Longevity of Your Laptop

Tips to help prolong the life of your laptop.

IT and security departments are advised to pay close attention to a survey conducted by Intel and the Ponemon Institute on stolen laptops.


The survey covered 329 organizations. Combined, they lost in excess of 86,000 laptops this year. Ponemon, in a study last year, put the average value of the data a lost laptop holds at $49,246. That means that each organization, on average, lost $6.4 million-a combined loss of $2.1 billion.


The survey found that an individual laptop had a 5 percent to 10 percent chance of going missing over a three-year period. Only 5 percent are recovered. One-quarter are likely theft, and 15 percent more were definitely stolen. The reason 60 percent go missing can't be identified.


The story then describes Intel's latest product in this area, Intel Anti-Theft Technology (Intel AT) 3, which is due in the first quarter of next year. It is interesting that Intel says it doesn't discourage its employees from personal use of their laptops. This is frowned upon by many organizations for a number of reasons. Intel's logic is that somebody with personal content on the machine is more likely to treat it with care and take steps to keep it from being stolen.


Health care is especially at risk due to the nature of the data with which doctors and other health care professionals deal. Unfortunately, similar dire tidings about laptop theft in this realm were released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of 189 data breaches reported to the department since such notification became mandatory last year, FierceHealthIT reported that 52 percent were caused by theft, while 20 percent were from unauthorized access and 16 percent from lost machines.


A third source weighing in on the dangers of laptop theft is IDC, which the CFO Zone reports found that 90 percent of 300 firms queried has had an incident within the past year. Twenty-one percent said that thievery is on the rise. The office (48 percent), conferences (20 percent) and conference rooms (16 percent), accounted for most of the areas where the theft occurred. One of every 400 laptops is likely to end up in the wrong hands. The story offers seven tips for keep devices and data safe, ranging from being selective on what to input, to using cables to secure laptops to desks and other immovable objects.


The bottom line is very clear: Laptop theft is still a big problem, and one that may be growing. Organizations should drill the importance of prudent handling of the devices into anyone entrusted with them and, more importantly, the valuable data they hold.