Although there are ways to physically protect your laptop or other portable devices, there is no guarantee that they will not be stolen or lost. While the theft itself is frustrating and inconvenient, the loss of information on the device could have serious long term consequences for your business.

Portable devices are designed to be easily transported and a lot of sensitive business information may be carried around outside the office, for example, sales information or customer data.

Make sure you manage the physical assets themselves as well and the security of the information they contain.

Educating employees about device and information security is critical.

Managing assets

  • Create a register of your hardware and software assets:
    • Take note of the brand, make, serial numbers and specifications for your equipment.
    • Include monitors and other portable assets such as printers, scanners, speakers, pointing devices, cameras, mobile phones and storage media.
    • Record the name, version number and product keys for your software.
    • Keep this register in a secure location.
  • Lock portable equipment that is not in daily use in a secure cabinet.
  • Create a register for staff to sign out equipment. When staff sign out equipment, remind them of relevant security procedures and obligations. Audit your register monthly to ensure equipment has either been returned or is still on loan.
  • Mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones should be encrypted and secured with a password. Software is available to encrypt the hard drives of desktop computers to stop them being accessed if they are stolen.
  • Ensure that staff do not write down passwords and keep them with the devices.

Secure your information

Encryption is the conversion of data into a secret code for transmission over the internet. By encrypting files, you ensure that unauthorised people cannot view data even if they can physically access it. Commercial products are available to encrypt information on your network.

There may be a business case to purchase this software to protect sensitive information such as your intellectual property and pricing policies. You may also want to consider options for full disk encryption, which prevents a thief from even starting your laptop without a password.

Establish an action plan

Establish a set of actions to take if business equipment is lost or stolen, and communicate them to your staff. These could include:

  • maintaining a list of serial numbers of business equipment
  • changing all passwords for online accounts previously accessed using the stolen device
  • advising your bank and/or cancelling the card if a credit card or other information was recorded on the device
  • reporting the loss to police and insurance company as soon as possible.

Where to get help

  • If you are experiencing difficulties connecting to the internet
    • contact your internet service provider.
  • If you suspect your device has been infected with a virus or malware and a full system scan has not resolved the issue, contact one of the following:
    • your your antivirus software manufacturer
    • your local computer repairer
    • your local computer retailer.
  • If you are looking for more information on securing your desktop or laptop computer
    • contact your device manufacturer's website
    • Visit Whirlpool or other discussion forums.
  • If you are looking for information on recent threats

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