Are you prepared for computer theft? - Radiant

The Radiant Blog

Posted by Ray Majoran

About a year ago, a group of us drove to Toronto to speak at a workshop for the Canadian Council of Christian Charities. Before we went to the hotel to check in, we decided to do a little team building on the golf course. :) Upon completing our game, we walked back to the car to realize that a window had been smashed and all of our belongings were stolen. I’m not just talking about clothes (although they did take my favorite dress shirt); I’m talking laptops, camera equipment, etc.

Now you may say to me, “What the heck were you doing leaving all of that stuff in a car in Toronto?” Well, to be completely honest, I didn’t think that someone would have the audacity to break into my car (which had an alarm system) in broad daylight and steal everything from it. (They did leave my GPS and iPod, which was very nice of them.)

The fact of the matter is – laptops get stolen every day. Consider these stats:

  • 12,000 laptops are lost in U.S. airports each week, and two-thirds are never returned. (Dell & Ponemon Institute, Airport Insecurity: the case of lost laptops, June 30, 2008)
  • 81% of companies reported the loss of one or more laptops containing sensitive information during the past 12 months. (Ponemon Institute, 2006)
  • Laptop theft accounted for 50% of reported security attacks. (CSI, The 12th Annual Computer Crime and Security Survey, 2007)

In the case of our unfortunate mishap, we had thankfully installed CompuTrace (by Absolute Software) on all of our machines. CompuTrace uses a very sophisticated tracking program that sends us (and the police) the location of a stolen laptop the very second that it accesses the Internet. The thief doesn’t even need to try and connect to the Internet; if CompuTrace detects an open wireless connection, it sends us the location. Even if the perpetrator wipes the hard drive, CompuTrace secretly installs itself again. It’s like our laptops were saying, “I’m right here… save me!” We literally watched a couple of our laptops travel the country… it was hilarious (yet, not funny at all). :)

I would recommend CompuTrace to any organization looking to protect their computers. I would also recommend encrypting your data (with a program like Bcrypt) so that even if you don’t get your computers back, there is a very good chance that no data will be compromised.

And I hope it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyways – back up your data! There’s nothing worse than losing a week/year/lifetime of work. There are plenty of tools out there that can assist you with simple backups. One that I recommend is GoodSync.

At the end of the day, if you are serious about protecting your organization’s assets and sensitive information, then you need to get serious about computer tracking, encryption and data backup. At some point, there is a VERY good chance that you will find yourself without a computer. Be prepared now so that you’re not left scrambling (or out of a job) later.