Tech Talk

Mobile Device and Laptop Security: 5 Ways to Stay Safe

Posted by Paul Ferdas on May 31, 2017 10:00:00 AM
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The greatest strength of laptops, notebooks and tablets are also their greatest weakness – portability. It’s what makes these tools so useful for mobile professionals, but it is also what leaves them so vulnerable to theft. 

The truth is, lost and stolen electronics (including smartphones) continues to be one of the most frequent causes of a data breach. And the costs associated with the loss or theft of these devices is far greater than the cost of the device itself. The statistics are significant:

  • A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds (Gartner)
  • 97% of stolen laptops are never recovered (US FBI)
  • Nearly 12,000 laptops are either lost, stolen, or go missing at US airports weekly (DELL)
  • 4.3% of company-issued smartphones are lost or stolen every year (McAfee)
  • Almost half (49%) of data breaches are due to lost or stolen laptops or other devices such as USB flash drives (Ponemon Institute)

Where Are These Thefts Most Likely to Occur?
A recent survey of 300 US IT professionals from a range of industries by Kensington, a supplier of desktop and mobile device accessories (including laptop locks) revealed that,

“…the top places where company employees experienced the most IT theft (outside of the office) were cars (25%) followed by airports/hotels (15%) and restaurants/cafes (12%)…”

The True Cost of Lost/Stolen Devices
According to the Ponemon Institute, the loss of a single laptop can exceed $49,000 if you consider lost productivity, loss of data/intellectual property, as well as the potential for data breaches, and legal fees. The simple fact that it’s easier to steal a laptop than to hack a database is why lost and stolen laptops and mobile devices continue to be the most frequent cause of a data breach.

What You Can Do About Mobile Device and Laptop Security
There are plenty of things your current in house our outsourced IT team can do to help protect your organization from becoming the next data breach statistic; including creating a mobile security policy for portable electronics, installing physical locks on equipment, encrypting data/networks, implementing multi-tier authenticate users, and just logging and documenting who has access to what.

Regardless, as a responsible end user here are the things you can do to ensure you do not lose your corporate issued devices and become the next victim -- making your organizations data vulnerable and at risk:

1. Lock Them up or Carry Them with You

This pertains to in your office, coffee shops, meetings, conferences, etc. Phones and laptops get stolen from cars, houses, and offices all the time. Make sure it is locked to or in something permanent. Laptop lockdown cables are available at most computer or office supply store.

2. Shut Down, Lock, Log Off, or Put It to Sleep

Before leaving them unattended, make sure your device is shut down, locked, or in sleep mode. Just logging off in anyway makes them safer as long as you have a secure password for startup or wake-up. Also make sure you set your computer and portable devices to automatically lock when they're not being used.

3. Don't Use Public Wi-Fi Hotspots Without Using a VPN (Secure) Connection

This is always true if you're a corporate user. Do not connect to a public Wi-Fi unless you do so through a VPN. A VPN will encrypt your communications to and from the internet so that anyone who might be eavesdropping can't steal your information. Check your wireless preferences/settings to make sure your devices aren’t set up to auto-connect to any wireless network they detect. Auto-connecting to unknown networks could put your device and data at risk.

4. Don't Keep Sensitive Data on Mobile Devices
These items are extra vulnerable to theft or loss. Keep critical data (or your only copies of important information) off of portable devices (such as laptop computers, tablets, phones, memory sticks, CDs/DVDs, etc.) unless they are properly protected.

5. Delete Sensitive Information Whenever You Can
Keep it off of your workstation, laptop computer, and other electronic devices if at all possible.

Interested in learning more about security audits, proactive monitoring, data backup, or how to make your business and its data more secure? Schedule a free call with our experienced security consultants today: 

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Topics: IT Security, Mobile Devices, laptops

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