A European survey on the economic costs organizations face as a result of lost or stolen laptops closely paralleled results from an earlier survey of U.S. organizations.
Ponemon Institute surveyed 275 European organizations in its latest lost laptop
report to determine the economic consequences of having a laptop lost or
organizations lost more than 72,000 laptops during a 12-month period for a
total economic impact of $1.79 billion, according to the "The Billion Euro Lost
Laptop Problem" report, released April 21. The researchers calculated that on
average, each laptop loss cost participating organizations about $6.85 million
impact included the cost of replacing the physical laptop; lost productivity; and
legal, regulatory and consulting expenses and costs related to detection,
forensics and data breach. The replacement cost of the device was actually the
smallest component, the researchers said.
month, oil giant British
announced that an employee had lost a company-issued laptop
during regular business travel. The laptop, which was not encrypted, contained
sensitive information on 13,000 individuals who had filed compensations claims
after the disastrous April 2010 fire and oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon
drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Based on figures from a recent Ponemon
report calculating the costs of a data breach, this one laptop incident alone
may cost BP in the neighborhood of $2.78 million.
latest report included both lost and stolen laptops. The majority of the
misplaced devices, at about 61 percent, were lost, the respondents said, and 14
percent were "likely" to have been stolen.
European study complemented the Ponemon Institute's December study, which
surveyed 329 organizations in the United States about laptop loss. Respondents
lost more than 86,000 laptops over the course of a year, according to "The
Billion Dollar Lost Laptop Study." The report valued the total cost at $2.1
billion at the time.
the resulting losses from the European study are combined with the U.S. one,
the total damages balloon to $3.9 billion across almost 160,000 lost laptops in
the space of one year, Patrick
Ward wrote on an Intel blog
42 percent of laptops were lost off-site, 32 percent were lost while in
transit, according to the European study. Researchers found that while laptops
were more likely to be lost off-site, such as at home, in a hotel or a
conference, laptop theft tended to occur in-transit, such as at an airport or
on the train. This pattern was also found in the U.S. study.
34 percent of lost laptops were encrypted, 26 percent were backed up regularly,
and 7 percent had other anti-theft features enabled, according to the European
were other similar trends in the European and U.S. studies. Both reports found
that roughly 30 percent of the lost laptops contained confidential data that
was not encrypted. In this case, confidential data referred to either personal
identifying information or intellectual property.
the European report, two industry segments-education and research, and health
and pharmaceutical-experienced the highest rate of laptop loss, with consumer
goods having the lowest. The researchers speculated that the segments with highly
mobile workforces were the most vulnerable. The same industry sectors were
highlighted in the U.S. report, but financial services had the lowest loss
recommended that organizations use anti-theft and data protection measures to
secure the data in case of loss. "Based on the costly consequences of lost
laptops, the business case can be made for allocating the necessary resources
to stop the loss and protect the data," the researchers wrote.
should also be trained on keeping laptops safe, and the focus should be on what
to do when they are not in the office, as most losses happen off-site.
with 5,000 to 25,000 employees experienced the highest rate of laptop loss,
according to both studies. Companies with less than 1,000 employees had the
European study surveyed organizations in the United Kingdom, France, Germany,
the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Spain. The three largest industry
sectors represented in the study were government, financial and industrial.