[ISN] Could your laptop be worth millions?

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Sun Jan 29 2006 - 22:33:15 PST


By Will Sturgeon 
Special to CNET News.com
January 27, 2006

The average laptop could contain data worth almost $1 million,
according to new research.

A report released Friday by security-software company Symantec
suggests that an ordinary notebook holds content valued at 550,000
pounds ($972,000), and that some could store as much as 5 million
pounds--or $8.8 million--in commercially sensitive data and
intellectual property.

The same research, commissioned by Symantec, shows that only 42
percent of companies automatically back up employees' e-mails, where
much of this critical data is stored, and 45 percent leave it to the
individual to do so.

"It's alarming that executives have mobile devices containing data of
such financial value and that very little is being done to protect the
information on them," said Lindsey Armstrong, a vice president for
Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Symantec.

The threat of stolen laptops is a real concern. About 50 percent of
respondents to an FBI computer crime survey said their organization
had suffered theft of a notebook or other mobile gear in 2005. On
Wednesday, investment consultancy Ameriprise Financial, an offshoot of
American Express, said the theft of a company laptop had exposed
sensitive data of about 230,000 customers and advisers.

The message to businesses is clear, Symantec said: Ensure all data is
backed up regularly and that laptops out on the road are thoroughly
secure and don't unnecessarily contain sensitive data.

"It is critical that businesses start looking beyond just the price of
the hardware and recognize that they also need to invest in protecting
the data stored on these machines," Armstrong said.

Past research in the U.K. suggests that as many as 10,000 laptops are
left in the backs of British taxis each year and civil servants are
among the worst offenders.

Will Sturgeon of Silicon.com reported from London.

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