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Device Security is Company Security – Tips to protect your laptop

Device Security is Company Security – Tips to protect your laptop

By Stephen Heath – Partner and Advisory CISO – Intrinium 

This story is all too familiar. Accidents happen but, what if that mistake could cost you the security of your company? 

An employee left their laptop in their car and came back to a broken window and stolen laptop. It makes me question why we are not better at keeping items secure? 

Compared to the endless cat-and-mouse world of hackers and malware, the principles of keeping something locked up hadn’t changed much from the time Richard of Pudlicott was rummaging in Edward I’s treasury in 1303 to when Sweden’s Crown Jewels were stolen in broad daylight just last year. The moral of the story, if it is valuable, it is best not left lying around.  

Even though, we understand the value of data and the repercussions of data loss on businesses, lost physical devices are the second highest cause of data breaches. According to the 2016 California Data Breach Report lost physical devices account for 22% of breaches overall. 

Unfortunately, the reality is that laptops and tables compromised or stolen because someone was naïve for a moment. You were answering emails on your phone while exiting an airline, you leave your laptop under the seat, or you used your laptop to hold your table at Starbucks because you never thought something would be stolen in a packed coffee shop. Every scenario, every other time, it was okay. But this was the one time it was not. There is insurance for all these scenarios but, the data confined within that device is no longer protected.  

The following tips are intended as a reminder of how you can best protect your devices and data: 

  1. Do not leave your laptop unattended in a vehicle. Especially in plain sight.
  2. If you absolutely must leave your device hidden in a vehicle, hide the device well out of sight before you get to your destination.
  3. Thieves wait in parking lots and watch for people “hiding” important items and use that activity to target vehicles.  Furthermore, consider using a cable lock to secure the device further.
  4. Do not put laptops or tablets in checked luggage unless required to by airport security.
  5. Never leave your laptop unattended in a public area (such as a coffee shop, restaurant, or on an airplane). It takes seconds for your device to disappear.
  6. If working on your laptop or tablet away from home or the office, double-check your laptop bag to make sure you have your device before leaving.
  7. When staying in a hotel room, place devices in the room safe where possible, or at the very least place devices out of sight. Also, ensure that your hotel room door is fully closed when leaving.

Of course, even if you do take every precaution, you still may face the time when your device is stolen. 

In the case, the best thing you can do is plan: 

Of course, even if you do take every precaution, you still may face the time when your device is stolen.  

  1. Ensure your device’s data is encrypted. Most Microsoft, Apple, and Android products come with default encryption programs such as BitLocker or FileVault. Enable these systems and use them properly to minimize the impact of lost data.
  2. Do not store sensitive data on your laptop. Use a secure file server or an approved cloud service. Another advantage of using an approved cloud service is that if your device must be wiped, all your data will be backed up.
  3. Familiarize and use features such as “Find my Phone” and/or “Remote Wipe” so you can confirm the location of a device and remotely delete the data.
  4. Contact your IT department immediately and let them know about your situation. Proactive communication and notifications are key to preventing the loss of sensitive data.

 

 

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