The story of the lost or stolen laptop with ultra-sensitive information on it is all too common. A research study conducted in 2008 by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Dell, estimated that business travelers lost more than 12,000 laptops per week in US airports. Those numbers have surely increased in the four years since. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to start taking steps to minimize incidences of human error.
The first step is probably the most obvious. Password protect all laptops, tablet PCs and smart devices. And don’t use easy to guess passwords. Complicate them by using capital and lower case letters, symbols and numbers. Of course, the more complex the password, the more likely you are to forget it. Keep your passwords written down and locked away in a secure place, preferably away from your desk.
Another way to keep sensitive files safe is by encrypting them or password protecting them. But keep in mind that this works best if the password protecting your documents is different from the one you use to launch Windows on your computer. You could even create a different password for each document or file folder.
Laptops with biometric security add an extra layer of protection. That doesn’t mean you should stop using passwords. Biometrics serve as supplements to passwords and should never be used as replacements for them.
The best way to keep anyone from being able to access important information is by not storing anything of vital importance on a portable device, especially a smart phone. It’s better to store files on a thumb drive. As an extra precaution, keep the thumb drive in your pocket or around your neck, as many are sold with lanyards. That way, if a laptop, tablet or smart device is lost or stolen, the files are still secure.
Business travel is a must for some people, so it’s good to know that there are security devices that can help you keep track of your laptop in busy airport terminals, coffee shops or wherever you may be. One is a laptop cable. Laptop cables come in many varieties and can be purchased for as little as $24 in places like Office Depot. With a laptop cable, you can secure your computer to a desk or table or bathroom sink. You can also buy a laptop security alarm that emits a loud noise when the laptop is moved or the alarm is tampered with.
Don’t rest on your laurels. New software and devices are being updated and created all the time. Update software programs and upgrade or replace security devices like locks, alarms, etc., so that you always have the latest protection.
Finally, educate your employees. Have a set of security guidelines. Post them in the break room, above the fax machine, the water cooler, etc. In addition, go over security the guidelines with your employees at least once a week. Make it fun. Have some sort of contest with a gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop as the prize. Quiz your employees on the security procedures you’ve established. Whoever answers the most questions correctly wins the gift card. Using it as a way to unwind on Friday afternoon or get going on Monday morning could make it something your employees look forward to with anticipation rather than dread.
No matter how many precautions you take to protect your company’s vital information, if you don’t take steps to reduce incidences of human error, then it’s all for naught.
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