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Symantec advises caution with smartphones and laptops this Christmas

Symantec : 11 December, 2009  (Technical Article)
With Smartphone sales reaching nearly 180 million this year, the data-packed devices are a prime target for thieves especially during the Christmas period when people's guards are down
As we head into Christmas party season it is expected that alcohol-fuelled "forgetfulness" will see many work laptops and smartphones left in bars and varying forms of public transport as employees raise a glass to celebrate the festive season as well as having survived an incredibly difficult year.

In an increasingly mobile workforce the number of corporate devices with sensitive data on them, such as laptops and smartphones, is growing. In fact, ABI Research recently stated that the number of smartphones shipped this year was 178.3 million.

With that in mind, Symantec advises people to ensure they store their laptops and phones in a safe place before ordering their first tipple.

Chi-Chi Liang, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Data Loss Prevention, EMEA Symantec says: "Christmas parties are a time to let your hair down and have fun. However, losing a work laptop or smartphone could leave you with more than just a hangover. If your business doesn't operate daily back-ups then it may not be able to recover your precious corporate information. The worst case scenario will be if the device has fallen into the wrong hands, as it poses an incredible security risk. A criminal will be able to use the unprotected laptop or smartphone to access very sensitive corporate information - which they could then sell for considerable profit in the black market."

Listed below are 10 of the most common documents a cybercriminal will try to access should your device inadvertently fall into the wrong hands:

* Your credit card information e.g. credit card number, magnetic stripe information, transaction data
* Your employee information e.g. employee ID, salary and benefit information, personal health information
* Sensitive customer data e.g. name, date of birth, national ID number
* Price lists
* Design documents
* Source code
* M&A contracts
* High net worth client lists
* Marketing plans
* Financial earnings reports (during quiet period)

With this abundance of personal information available on corporate laptops and devices, Symantec advises that employees take necessary precautions to minimise risk, should they fall into the wrong hands. Firstly both laptops and smartphones should be locked with strong passwords. Also, users shouldn't forget about physical security - laptops can locked down with cables and Kensington locks and PDAs can be protected in locked cases

However, should you fall victim, Symantec suggests following this guide and also informing your IT manager immediately, so that the device can be remotely disabled.
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