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Lack of Laptop Security Leads to Identity Theft

In 2003, an estimated 1.5 million laptops were stolen worldwide. Today, that number has climbed to 2.6 million. That’s a 70% increase in just a few years. That’s one stolen laptop every 12 seconds.

Laptop computers have been the source of some of the biggest data breaches of all time. 800,000 doctors were recently put at risk for identity theft when a laptop containing their personal data went missing from the Chicago-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

As the years pass, laptop prices come down and their computing power goes up, making them increasingly vulnerable.

According to yet another interesting Ponemon Institute study, more than half of IT and security professionals worldwide believe their companies’ laptops and other mobile devices pose security risks, and only half of them have CEOs who are strong advocates and supporters of data security efforts. Kelly Jackson Higgins’ article at Dark Reading gives a good summary of these findings.

In the United States specifically, the situation is even worse, with only 40% of IT and security pros believing their CEOs to be security supporters. When it comes to compliance with regulations, “US firms were also less inclined to consider compliance helpful to security of their endpoints.”

This report is both quite troubling and yet unsurprising. It models the philosophies that produce what we see in the real world: data breaches are quite commonplace, decent security is quite achievable, and most businesses just don’t really care, at least until they learn the hard way. It’s akin to a widespread lack of interest in wearing seat belts, with only those who experience accidents deciding that, sure enough, it’s not very hard to buckle a seat belt and the benefits are enormous.

Many businesses have a department, or at least a group or individual, that handles security. (Note that the report also exposes a woeful lack of collaboration with this section of the business.) Yet “the security department,” or the IT department in general, tends to find that upper management just doesn’t “buy in” with security efforts.

Dan Yost, Chief Technology Officer of MyLaptopGPS, states, “It seems good to let the upper management take a serious fall when (not if) breaches happen. They choose not to support the buckling of seat belts, because it’s ‘not important’ or at least not a priority. It’s only fair that their necks be on the line during the next ‘accident’.”

Unfortunately your security, or lack thereof, is in the hands of others. Take control. Protect your identity. Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

Invest in identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk.

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