Data breaches represent an enormous threat to businesses of any size, and the resulting fallout, both financially and in terms of eroded trust, can easily damage or even destroy a company. Corporate laptops are among the most common source of those data breaches, whether in the form of theft, loss, or poor security practices. Below are some of the crucial steps any business should take to secure their company-issued laptops, before it’s too late.
1. Keep Data Backed Up
Keeping the contents of your laptop backed up is crucial in order to prevent data loss in the case of theft or hardware failure. However, keeping physical backups, such as on a portable hard drive, can leave sensitive data exposed, which is why it is recommended to use encrypted, cloud-based services such as Microsoft OneDrive to store and share data.
2. Follow Effective Password Protocol
Setting and maintaining a secure password policy is the first line of defense against data theft and privacy breaches. Company laptops should always require a password on boot-up, as well as when it comes out of sleep or screensaver mode. Though it may be convenient, avoid the temptation to let the device remember any usernames or passwords, and ensure that passwords are both complex and periodically changed even if there is no indication that privacy has been compromised.
3. Encrypt Sensitive Data
Any sensitive information on a company laptop should be hidden behind at least one layer of encryption. The good news is that encryption is built right in to Windows 10 with Microsoft’s BitLocker tool. It’s simple to encrypt the entire laptop hard drive and centrally manage the solution. You can even use advanced features for unlocking the workstation, like a USB key.
4. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Unsecured wireless networks, such as those found in cafes, airports, and hotels, present a major risk to people traveling with sensitive data, since savvy hackers can use a number of easily-available tools to eavesdrop on other devices that connect to those networks, allowing them to scrape data, read emails, and even copy passwords. While a VPN, or virtual private network, can encrypt traffic as it passes over the public network to your corporate network, they don’t always protect traffic from the device to the public internet. A VPN can help secure data when using these networks, but it isn’t foolproof.
5. Practice Theft Protection Basics
While hackers do pose a risk, studies have shown that most cases of corporate espionage and data theft result from laptops being physically stolen because the owner wasn’t keeping an eye on it or left it unsecured in a public place. Always practice the basics of theft protection, such as making sure you don’t leave your device unattended in public for even a short time, and that devices aren’t left inside of your vehicle overnight. The risk of theft is especially high while traveling, which is why many experts recommend using a lockable, unassuming bag to store any company-issued devices.
Most data breaches are the result of simple negligence, whether it’s leaving a laptop unattended in a public space or clicking on malicious links. However, the damage they can cause your business is immense, and in some cases, it may be impossible to restore consumer faith in your product or services. By following the security protocols above, any business can set up a first line of defense and drastically reduce the odds of sensitive data on their company laptops becoming compromised.
Peters & Associates is a managed services provider is the Chicago area. We understand that supporting the IT needs of your employees is a difficult task. Our managed services can protect your business by offering 24/7 IT support to your employees, security awareness training, and more. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!