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It’s 11 O’clock – Do You Know Where Your Laptop Is?

It happens every day, in every Canadian city big or small, laptop computers vanish from small business and larger corporation at alarming rates. Of course, these notebook computers are not vanishing; they are being stolen at all hours of the day from office towers, small retail shops and many other locations where our mobility work environments take us.

Small Business need to understand that protecting and preventing these thefts from occurring is an important key to business success, however, the laptop itself, is not the most valuable piece of the puzzle. Many business owners do not understand that it is their data, if not protected, will sink their small business if it disappears, not the computer itself.

How can small business today protect its critical business information from vanishing or falling into the wrong hands? Many small businesses struggle to cope with a data loss. When businesses experience a data loss of any scale, they may never fully recover and the costs are astronomical. Costs range from intellectual property to labour costs involved in recreating or retrieving the missing information.

Here are some basic tips to protect your business from the pains of having a laptop computer stolen.

o Office Security – Perhaps the easiest and most often overlooked solution to protecting your corporate business data. I see laptops left unsecured in the middle of the day. I have even walked into many corporations that didn’t have someone manning the front reception area and freely roamed the halls without being challenged by anyone. If I accomplish this in a business, imagine what someone can do that wanted to cause harm to your business. It is critical to have someone to greet every visitor and no one is able to walk around your office without an escort.

o After Hours Security – Small Business need to invest in the best physical security solutions to protect their business in general. Alarms and cameras are great solutions, however what about those who have afterhours access. Your IT guy, cleaning staff and others. Have you done your homework to ensure that you have contracted out to organizations that can be trusted to enter your business when no one is there to watch them? What are your policies around afterhour’s access? On many occasions I have went to offices in the evening where the cleaning staff have left a door propped open while servicing a business, therefore, enabling anyone to enter the office without have the need to authenticate first. Therefore, bypassing your security solutions.

o Personal Security – I have personally found that laptop locking cables are not the best solution for securing your laptop. I had a client once who had 4 notebook computers stolen and the locking cables were ripped out of the notebook. Cables will keep the honest person honest; however it will not stop a professional, if someone wants it bad enough. When you are not using your laptop computer or at the end of the day, take it with you or secure it in a locked drawer or other secure storage device. Also, lock your office door at the end of your day.

o Call Home Software – There are many solutions on the market that can force a laptop computer to call home in the event that it is stolen. This can assist a company in having an asset returned to them, however, what damage has been done if the reason it was stolen in the first place was to collect information about your firm.

o Backup Often – Backup your notebook computer often, many larger firms use expensive software solutions to automate this to ensure that their critical data is securely stored on its servers. Small Business can leverage some built in synchronization processes in desktop and network operating systems to ensure that data is synchronized with their servers every time someone connects to the office network. If your business does not have a server, you can simply backup your data to a removable hard drive, USB memory stick or CD/DVD. Backup and Backup OFTEN! I cannot stress this enough, you can never have to many backups.

o Prevent Access – You can prevent access to your laptop computer easily by setting up a boot up or BIOS password, this will force the owner of the laptop to enter a password every time the laptop starts up. This is an OK solution for securing access to the computer itself, it will not stop someone from reading the data if they remove the hard drive and install it into another computer system.

o Encrypt Your Information – When a laptop is stolen and you have taken all the other security measures to protect your information, your data may still accessible and used on any computer system. Data encryption is available in the majority of business editions of new desktop and some server operating systems and takes all the information on your hard drive and scrambles it, making it unreadable unless you have the unlocking code. When a thief removes the drive and installs it in another computer and attempts to look at your information it cannot be read. Always store your encryption code in a separate location than your computer.

What is your business willing to risk? Remember, that many corporations that experience a data loss never fully recover and recreating the intellectual property is time consuming and very expensive to your bottom line. Plus, you never fully recreate the information to its original state. The security solutions mentioned in this article are inexpensive measures and will ensure your company’s data is secure. In today’s world of compliance and regulatory measures being enforced to protect shareholders, what are you really willing to risk by having your data go missing or end up in the wrong hands?

Source by Stuart Crawford

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