Stolen or missing laptops cost 329 companies $2.1 billion in lost data, productivity and equipment. See what you should do to minimize the hit to your corporate pocketbook.
Failing to protect laptops with a mix of technology and policy
can be costly, and a new survey showed just how much.
The survey, dubbed "The Billion Dollar Lost-Laptop Study," was
conducted by Intel and the Ponemon Institute and fielded
input from 329 public and private organizations. During the past 12
months, those respondents collectively lost more than 86,000
laptops, costing themselves a staggering $2.1 billion in lost data,
productivity and equipment.
Most of these laptops-60 percent-were logged as missing. The remaining 40 percent were either confirmed or suspected to be stolen
Thieves love transportation spots such as airports--among
companies reporting the highest theft rates, 48 percent of laptops
were stolen at transportation venues. The three main environments where
employees most often part with their laptops are seemingly safe
off-site locations such as homes or hotels; transportation
sites; and their own offices.
The most common areas for loss are those apparently benign off-site
locations, which are the site of more than 40 percent of losses.
Among the companies surveyed, just five percent of laptops are ever recovered.
"Looking at these results, you can barely fathom the significant financial impact of missing laptops," said Anand Pashupathy
general manager of Intel Anti-Theft Services, in a statement. "More
astonishing, considering the vulnerability of laptops and their data is
that the majority of these companies aren't taking even basic
precautions to protect them."
Methods such as hard disk encryption, data back-up and antitheft
technologies are not widely used, the survey found. While 46 percent of
the lost systems contained confidential data, just 30 percent of those
systems were encrypted, and only 10 percent utilized other antitheft
According to the study, the chance of workers misplacing their
laptops or having them stolen is somewhere between 5 and 10 percent,
depending on the industry, during the PCs' expected three-year life
spans. Of the 11 industries surveyed, education and research
institutions lost laptops the most - less than 11 percent of
their mobile PCs. Financial institutions were at the other end of the
scale, losing only about five percent of their laptops.
Businesses need to know what data is on which devices, understand
how it's at risk and implement proper policies, training and technical
controls, security expert and author Kevin Beaver, who was on a
Dec. 2 media call about the report, told eWEEK afterward.
Seventy-one percent of the laptops were not backed up - meaning that
many of the organizations lost a lot more than just the physical
machine. In fact, much of the losses reflected in the $2.1 billion
figure come down to data, Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon
Institute, explained during the media call. Many organizations he said,
are "incompetent in protecting information assets"--not just laptops,
but removable media and smartphones as well.
"Most of [the cost] is the data," he said. "When you add
intellectual property and confidential information...if it's
confidential information about people then you have to worry about
notification and it becomes a data breach. So under those conditions
it's really more about the information than the device itself."