5 Tips for Securing Your Work Laptop and Mobile Devices

Posted August 23, 2012 by

Young Male Thief Holding LaptopHow secure is your information at work? Of the 26 percent of workers who reported having office laptops, 61 percent said they have critical, sensitive information stored on them. According to CareerBuilder’s latest nationwide study, a significant number of workers may be putting their company or themselves at risk by failing to secure their laptop, sharing passwords or clicking on links from unknown sources. The study was conducted online by Harris Interactive© from May 14 to June 4, 2012 and included more than 3,800 workers nationwide.

What type of proprietary information is stored on laptops?

In addition to office-related data and documents, a notable percentage of workers said their laptops currently house a variety of personal files. When asked to identify the type of sensitive information that can be found on their office computers, workers with laptops pointed to:

  • Company information – 48 percent
  • Client information – 27 percent
  • Personal financial information – 18 percent
  • Other personal information – 18 percent

How many workers leave their laptops unguarded?

The survey found most workers don’t always leave critical information under lock and key.

  • 57 percent of workers don’t have a laptop security device.
  • 52 percent don’t lock their computer when they’re away from their desk.
  • 25 percent have left their laptop unsecured overnight.

Higher theft rates were reported among workers ages 18 to 24. Thirteen percent said they have had a work laptop stolen compared to 5 percent of all workers.

What others ways do workers put their companies and themselves at risk?

As malware and other types of fraudulent activity become more pervasive, a seemingly benign interaction can have serious consequences. Some risky behaviors include:

  • 9 percent of workers have downloaded a virus on their computer at work.
  • 18 percent of workers have opened an attachment or clicked on a link from a sender they didn’t know.
  • 18 percent have looked at a website that they knew wasn’t secure while at work.

How accessible are passwords?

While half of workers reported they memorize their passwords, 12 percent keep their passwords at their desk, written on their laptop or in their computer case or purse/wallet. Others have openly discussed their passwords with fellow workers.

  • 27 percent of workers reported that a co-worker gave them their password.
  • 15 percent have shared their password with a co-worker. Those age 55+ were the most likely to share passwords, while those 18 to 24 were the least likely.

What about mobile devices?

Eighteen percent of workers access corporate email through a smart phone; 5 percent have lost their smart phone or had it stolen.

“Laptops and mobile devices are quickly becoming the preferred technologies for many businesses,” said Eric Presley, Chief Technology Officer at CareerBuilder. “It’s important for employers and workers alike to take precautions to reduce vulnerabilities and keep company information secure.”

Presley recommends the following tips:

  1. Use hard-to-decipher passwords. Use a different password for home and work and don’t share them with anyone. Make sure your mobile phone requires a password as well.
  2. Never click on links or attachments from unknown sources. There’s a good chance there may be a virus lurking behind the scenes.
  3. Don’t leave your laptop unattended. Invest in a laptop security cable and lock your laptop when you’re away from your desk. Avoid leaving your laptop in your car.
  4. Keep up to date. Make sure your laptop computer’s security has the latest antivirus software to stave off thieves.
  5. Keep personal information separate. Store personal financial information and other files on your home computer.

Shutterstock Photo: Young Male Thief Holding Laptop

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