The more gadgets we have, the more gadgets we have to lose. Technology has brought changes to many things, but logic isn’t one of them.
A laptop computer might seem like something that would be hard to misplace or lose. It’s relatively small, yet certainly bigger than your car keys. It frequently has important information stored within its memory, and it can cost a lot of money. Somehow, though, people do manage to lose track of them — or leave them unattended and vulnerable to theft.
So how many laptops are lost or stolen? And more important, what do you do if your laptop becomes one of those grim statistics?
A billion-dollar problem
The Ponemon Institute, a consulting firm specializing in privacy and information security, conducted a study called “The Billion Dollar Lost Laptop Problem.” As you might have guessed from the title, the findings didn’t paint a pleasant picture:
- More than 86,000 laptops used in the public and private sectors were lost or stolen during a 12-month period.
- The total cost —which includes everything from replacing the devices to lost productivity — was estimated at $2.1 billion.
- Nearly half of the lost laptops contained confidential or sensitive information.
And bear in mind that the Ponemon study focused solely on laptops entrusted to employees and didn’t include personal laptops.
The trouble with travel
The Ponemon Institute study found that one-third of the missing laptops were lost in transit, as their owners traveled from one place to another. One setting that seems like a magnet for lost laptops is the airport.
A Chicago Tribune article reported that more than 8,000 wireless devices showed up at the lost-and-found at seven major U.S. airports in 2011. An estimated 43 percent of those devices were laptops.
Your laptop’s gone — now what?
Experts recommend taking certain steps if you lose your laptop.
First, don’t automatically assume the device is on its way to the hacker equivalent of a chop shop. If you’re in a public place like an airport or a restaurant, check the lost-and-found before filing a police report.
If it doesn’t turn up quickly, find another computer and change the logins and passwords for all your personal and business accounts. Altering this information will help protect you and your clients.
Advances in 4G and LTE technology continue to improve mobile broadband capability. Thanks in part to wireless Internet providers like CLEAR, laptops go everywhere these days.
Just keep an eye on yours to make sure it doesn’t go missing.