Data Security

Do you store sensitive personal information on your computers, especially laptops? What about sensitive client information? How much trouble would you be in if your laptop containing such data were lost, or worse, stolen?

Securing data, especially other people's sensitive data, is absolutely critical these days. Companies find themselves exposed to nearly limitless liability for losing control of client data, costing them many millions of Dollars, professional embarrassment, and loss of customer confidence. It's a bad scene all around.

Even companies that don't have a website connected to a back-end client database still has need for concern. Many businesses use online services such as Dropbox, email (the original "cloud app"), online backup services, Facebook, etc.  Business owners and employees may carry a laptop that either contains client data or is otherwise connected to client data.  Lose that laptop and you could be in a world of hurt potentially having to report a data breach depending on the regulations of your industry.

Laptop Theft

Laptops are especially ripe for theft. They are stolen from cars, from offices in broad daylight, airport security checkpoints, and in the airport concourse itself where people are constantly coming and going. In 2012, over a half-million laptops were stolen just in US airports! Total numbers are notoriously hard to pin down, but the FBI estimates that upward 1 in 10 laptops will be stolen during the machine's lifetime. I don't like those odds.

The most worrisome part isn't the value of the laptop itself, it's the exposure of your confidential data and online accounts to the thief. Any locally stored files or databases are immediately available for pilfering. Furthermore, most of us allow our web browsers to save our online passwords for greater convenience. Unfortunately, this is very convenient for the thief as well, giving them unfettered access to your social media accounts, email, and other online services. I simply cannot overstate the emergency you'll face if that happened to you.

The best defense is full disk encryption which keeps your data safe even if your laptop is stolen. Sure, the thief might swap out the hard drive but s/he cannot access the data which is what we're most concerned with. You can afford another laptop.  You cannot afford the liability that comes with losing control of sensitive and confidential data.

Cloud Exposure

We are all using cloud services more and more. The convenience is unquestionable as you can access your stuff from any device wherever you are. But you also assume a level of risk that can never be fully mitigated. A few ways to help mitigate some of the risk of exposure is 1) Encrypting the data before it reaches the cloud, using your own private key, 2) Using Two Factor Authentication for any online services that offer it, 3) Using a VPN whenever you're connecting from an untrusted network such as a public hotspot or hotel wi-fi.

PBCIT can assist in these matters.