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Commercial sector complacency a threat to data security

Absolute Software : 11 January, 2008  (Technical Article)
Absolute Software survey reveals negligence amongst employees in the private sector is a threat to data integrity for commercial organisations.
Following recent controversy over data security in the public sector, a new survey has revealed that commercial organisations face the same potential dangers because many of their employees do not follow corporate policies on data and computer security. Commercial organisations should not assume that they are immune from the exposures and damage such as those suffered by the HMRC and NHS following recent data thefts.

Published by Absolute Software, the leader in computer theft recovery, data protection and secure asset tracking solutions, the survey was conducted by technology market research specialist Vanson Bourne and encompassed 100 companies spanning many industries from financial services to manufacturing to retail. The companies ranged in size from 1,000 to over 3,000 employees.

Nearly half of those polled (48 per cent) said data was threatened by employee negligence. Of those suffering security breaches, 43 per cent estimated costs to the business to be between £10,000 and £100,000, while 14 per cent said it had cost them over half a million pounds.

The security of data on laptop computers is most at risk, especially for the 58 per cent of companies that reported laptop thefts in the past 12 months. Surprisingly 80 per cent of businesses still only use traditional asset management tools to protect their machines, which are generally ineffective at protecting data once the asset itself is lost or stolen.

William Pound, senior director, international operations, Absolute Software, said: 'In today's increasingly mobile world, it's not surprising that we hear about data losses and security breaches in the media day in and day out. While it is impossible to stop such losses, it is possible to significantly reduce the damage they cause by implementing security solutions that enable companies to take action once these events occur. Absolute's theft recovery and data delete solutions are designed to do just that and have helped thousands of customers eliminate this threat.

'Arguably, with 80 per cent of businesses not taking steps to address this problem, there is still a lack of appreciation of the value of data held on laptops. Companies need to take a layered approach to security, to protect all valuables at all levels to lessen the potential impact on the bottom line. The many recent stories of data loss from stolen/misplaced laptops highlights the continuing potential dangers.'

Pound continued: 'Laptops often contain secure or personal data and intellectual property. These items have their own value and should be protected as such. A stolen laptop could contain data on your staff, suppliers, potential customers and others. If this data falls into the wrong hands it can be devastating to your business.

It will be interesting to see how the Governments' plans to possibly criminalise repeated breaches in data security will affect this current attitude towards security.'

Absolute Software has developed a solution called Computrace which is pre-installed on a range of laptops from manufacturers including Dell, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba. ComputraceOne tracks and recovers lost or stolen computers and enables sensitive data to be remotely deleted.
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