Laptop & Data Protection

The portability laptops offer can provide critical productivity advantages but also makes the devices vulnerable to being lost or stolen. While it’s important for business owners to protect the physical security of their laptops, they should also pay attention to safeguarding what is probably a more valuable business asset—the customer and company data stored on a laptop’s hard drive.

Laptops are a popular target of thieves and are cited as the most common source of information security breaches that companies and organizations were required to disclose to customers.

Beyond the obvious cost of replacing a stolen device, companies may risk having sensitive financial or customer data used by hackers or identity thieves.

Depending on the state where you live and the type of information stored on a stolen laptop, your company may have a duty under state data-breach disclosure laws to notify customers if a laptop with their information is stolen.

Protecting laptops from loss, damage or theft involves some common sense data-protection practices that should be carried out throughout a company.

Physical Security

The first step in protecting your laptop from loss or theft is trying to keep the device within your sight. Most laptop thefts result from a lack of vigilance by the laptop owner or employee to whom a device has been assigned.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Never leave a laptop inside a car. That may seem basic, but lots of laptops are stolen from vehicles that aren’t even locked. Try to carry the laptop with you, but if you can’t, locking it in the trunk is safer than leaving it on the back seat.
  • Pay attention at airport security lanes. Try to wait for any backlog to clear at the end of the conveyor belt.
  • Don’t leave your laptop unattended in a hotel room. Smaller laptops may fit inside in-room safes, or better yet you may ask the front desk staff to store your device in the hotel safe.
  • Public working areas such as coffee shops or airports can also be opportunities for laptop thieves. A helpful step is attaching your laptop to something strong, such as a table leg or a radiator with a cable lock.

Data Security

While protecting a laptop is an important step in preventing its theft, it’s equally important to take measures to protect the integrity of the data stored on the device. As a good basic step, require the use of a password to boot up a laptop. Some users consider it a hassle to enter a password every time they turn on the machine, but this small step can prevent much more critical issues if someone else accesses the data.

Another important step is encrypting the data on the laptop’s hard drive to prevent unauthorized access. If someone steals your laptop and boots it up, encryption software makes the data unreadable to someone without the password.

It’s important to guard your laptop carefully, not only because of the high replacement cost, but also because of the risks your company can face if sensitive financial or customer data are compromised. Vigilance and common sense when you’re traveling or working outside of your office will go a long way in protecting your laptop, your customers and your company.

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Next: Workplace Fraud Prevention