Laptops, ultrabooks, and tablets are very easy to lose and an easy target for thieves. The FBI has estimated that the cost to a company for losing a single laptop is just under $50,000. However, despite this, you need not worry if you take the right approach to data security.
Keeping your data safe and protecting your company from possible bad publicity and also fines is something that every organisation can do. With the correct policies in place caring about lost laptops and smartphones will soon be a thing of the past. Here are five reasons why I don’t care if things get lost or stolen.
One of the best ways to keep your data secure is to encrypt it. In today’s mobile world the majority of data is held on some form of mobile device. If that gets lost that could be a massive headache for the company, not just through potential fines from the likes of the information commissioner’s office (ICO), but also from customers losing faith in the company and voting with their feet. However, if all the data on the device is securely encrypted then it doesn’t matter who gets their hands on the phone, tablet or laptop because they have no way of accessing the information.
The trouble is only 25% of companies actually use encryption according to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute. This leaves them wide open to massive data losses especially when you consider that a laptop has a 10% chance of being stolen during a standard three-year lifecycle. When implementing encryption it needs to be fast and non-intrusive. If just one employee thinks that the encryption process is slowing down their job and ability to work productively, they will turn it off.
2. Remotely delete
Even when you know that everything on a laptop, phone or tablet is encrypted, sometimes it’s just even better to get rid of the data once and for all. It’s much easier to sleep well at night knowing that any stolen or lost laptops don’t have any information on them, encrypted or otherwise, because the data has been remotely deleted.
3. Up to the minute, continuous backup
In the same way that encryption should be almost invisible to the users, so should the backup process. Researchers at the Ponemon Institute found that only 8% of corporate laptops are backed up to the company’s servers and when it comes to actually doing the backup it must be continuous, not just done at the end of the day, otherwise when the data is restored it isn’t up-to-date. Use the cloud to help you store your backups in a way that they can be easily recalled should the need arise.
Backups are also best done locally during peak times to minimise the strain on each office’s bandwidth; when the network isn’t being used, such as during non-office hours, back up the data to the central secure store. Doing your backup this way means that if you have teams travelling the world and they lose their devices, they can get new ones and back them up quickly and easily.
Another issue that can cause a great deal of trouble when mobile devices get lost is the fact that a lot of the time the company and the individuals involved don’t know what was on the device in the first place. Often this leads the company to admit that it has lost a lot more data than it actually has, not that they know for sure of course.
In order for this not to happen, all data stored on any mobile device needs to be audited so that you know who not only has access to what, but also what they are doing with it and if they are taking it off-site. A lot of the time people think they need more information than they actually do and open the company up to unnecessary risk.
This practice should also be applied to USB memory devices too. It used to be that a company’s databases were stored in big, metal filing cabinets that couldn’t be removed. Now a company’s entire filing system can be held on one USB stick.
5. Staying productive while waiting for new hardware
For some people, those who don’t have the right procedures in place, losing their laptop means that they can’t do any work along with all the other problems that they may well have caused the company. However, with the right policies in place you need not be dead in the water or have to miss a step with your work. Companies need to embrace the reality of mobile access from whatever devices people are carrying.
As many business people travel with smartphones and tablets as well as laptops, you should be able to access your backed up data with either of these or simply through a web browser over a secure connection. Then when you do get your device back, all your data can be quickly restored and will be up-to-date.
The sheer number of mobile devices in use in the workplace and the number that go missing every day means that every company needs to plan for the worse. You can’t just sit there and say ‘it won’t happen to me,’ because the statistics show that it will happen to someone in your organisation.
This leaves every IT manager with two options. One is to lose sleep at night worrying that one of the sales staff will leave their laptop on a train or in a taxi. Second, they could implement the right systems and sleep soundly knowing that if a marketing executive did lose their laptop with the company’s next year’s predictions on it at an airport somewhere in the world, it wouldn’t matter because the data was safe from prying eyes.