prevent data theft laptop protectionThe humble laptop – once an executive-only power toy – is now an important part of almost every employee’s workflow. Yet despite being more common than ever before, portable computing devices are still particularly attractive to thieves.

Now, the physical hardware is not always the most valuable part of such a theft. In the wrong hands, the data stored on a company laptop is often of much greater value in the long run. This information can be sold to your competitors, used to carry out some kind of fraud, or to blackmail your company into paying for its safe return.

So what can you do to prevent data theft, even if a laptop is stolen?

Proactive precautions against data theft

Sometimes encouraging employees to take great care of devices issued to them is not enough, as laptops are natural thieves’ targets. You may have to accept the loss of the hardware, but you can effectively block data theft from it.

The first task is to set a password to prevent thieves from gaining instant access to the laptop’s contents. Unfortunately this will only slow them down, and eventually the defences will be breached.

Next, you need to implement some form of drive encryption to prevent unauthorised users from reading the data stored on the laptop. Drive encryption ‘scrambles’ data, rendering it unreadable without the help of a special ‘key’ that is linked to another password.

Authorised users of the laptop will notice no difference as all of their files are perfectly readable once they logon to the computer. Without that password however, thieves will not be able to see inside any of your files, rendering the contents completely valueless.

You can further enhance security provisions with the use of Cloud storage services, allowing files to be saved securely online. Using hosted file storage, your data is not stored on the laptop itself, giving thieves no chance of recovering it from the local hard drive.

Reactive activity after losing a laptop

Once a laptop is reported stolen, it is vital that you act quickly. Your mobile users typically have access to your servers and systems at head office, enabled by the configuration of their laptop – effectively a front door through which cybercriminals can enter your network and create an even larger data theft.

You must disable the network accounts of any compromised user immediately to prevent further loss. Failing that, ensure that all of the user’s passwords to the company systems and any Cloud services are changed. You should also arrange to have the firewall protecting the company network updated to block any requests or traffic from the stolen device.

Finally, speak to your IT support provider about the options available for tracking stolen laptops. There are tools available which may allow you to see where a stolen device is being used so that you can make an informed report to the police – and potentially recover it.

For more information about protecting your mobile devices and using encryption to prevent corporate data theft, please get in touch with our expert team.

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