Approximately 60 percent of PDAs and 59 percent of laptops contain unprotected sensitive or confidential information. Almost half of businesses surveyed by the Ponemon Institute indicated that they would never be able to determine the actual information that they lost. There are a number of precautions businesses and their employees should take to ensure that they have met the minimum standard of care related to protecting sensitive data contained on laptops or other mobile devices. These security measures include:
• Protect information stored on the laptop with a secure password. It should consist of a combination of numbers and upper and lower-case letters.
• Implement advanced security measures such as Remote Laptop Security and laptop encryption.
• Be sure that all important data contained on the laptop is backed up.
• Make use of physical security measures like locks and cables. These security devices make theft more difficult and thereby discourage thieves from taking your machine.
• When leaving a laptop in the office, make sure it is hidden and secured.
• Keep your laptop in an inconspicuous case. Flashy cases expose your computer by attracting thieves’ attention. A simple padded messenger bag can suffice as a protective container.
• When using a laptop for meetings or conferences, always keep it in your sight. Do not leave the room without taking the laptop with you.
The Ernst & Young laptop theft in Miami could have been prevented if employees had followed these simple instructions. Furthermore, the companies whose data was stolen could have easily identified the compromised data if the companies regularly backed up the information contained on the laptops. Finally, all of the information could have been protected if it was encrypted. Only 65 percent of the Ponemon survey respondents claimed that their organizations utilize encryption to protect information.