Study: Office likely location for laptop lifts

A recent study by Credant Technologies found the office to be the most common place for a laptop to be stolen, despite physical security measures. Of laptops that are filched, about 90% contain sensitive information.

Desk drawers, cables, even superglue aren't enough to thwart laptop thieves, according to a recent study by Credant Technologies, a business mobile device security provider in Addison, Texas.

The study, completed this fall, details where, when and how laptops were pilfered. Credant posed the question, "Has your laptop ever been stolen?" The survey focuses on the responses of roughly 300 professionals who answered "yes."

The most common place for a laptop to be ill-gotten, according to the study, was inside corporate offices. Twenty-nine percent said their laptop was snatched in the office. About 25% said their laptop was picked from a car, while 14% said the laptop was taken from an airplane or airport. Other common theft spots include hotels, taxis, homes, buses and restaurants.

Some respondents elaborated, commenting on where the device was and how it was secured when it was purloined. Those responses included:

  • "It was physically locked to a desk."
  • "They were superglued to countertops."
  • "It was locked in the trunk of a rental car."
  • "It was in a desk drawer in a controlled access area."
  • "It had a cable and a lock on it."

Nearly 90% said the device contained company communications, as well as confidential business and personal information not intended for public view, when it was nabbed.

When asked if their company information was compromised because of the theft, some responded:

  • "The information could have been used, and we would not know if this was the source."
  • "The competition would have a field day, and there was corporate LAN access information on the laptop."
  • "Access to confidential information that, if used, could cause legal problems."
  • "All passwords to the company I work for. They were saved in Norton Password Manager; so as a result, they had to reset every access point that I had access to."
  • "Our corporate network was exposed."

Other respondents downplayed the potential for corporate exposure. One wrote: "Loss was limited to hardware. The rest was totally recoverable."

For more information

Read more in our story about device loss and theft

 

Check out a column on laptops' negative network impact

Almost 75% of the respondents reported their laptop was secured only by a password, while 21% said the laptop wasn't secured at all. Only 10% said they use a full disk encryption system, while 8% said they use a type of encryption software that encrypts only certain data.

Of the laptops pinched, the study found that 82% were never recovered. In cases in which the laptops were not recovered, 59% said it took five days or more to receive a new laptop. Thirty percent said they received a new laptop in two to four days, while 11% said a new laptop was given in one day or less.

Fourteen percent of professionals who had their laptops swiped said they were reprimanded by their companies. Seventy percent said they were issued a new laptop with no questions asked. Of the victims, 56% said they reported the theft to police, 39% reported it to an insurance company and 3% took no action at all.

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