Most people enjoy the freedom afforded by using a laptop or portable electronic device. The technology today allows for work away from the office and leisure away from home. With laptops becoming more of a replacement to desktops it stands to reason that more personal information is stored on those laptops. Without detailing the specifics of laptop security, lets look at what could happen if your laptop is stolen or possibly lost and retrieved by someone nefarious.
First it helps to understand that natively laptops are insecure, meaning that laptops don’t have special security features to make them more secure than desktops. That means anyone can access the files on the system as easily as you can. The security or lack thereof comes mainly from the operating system(s) installed on the laptops. Laptops themselves are just hardware components assembled together which the operating system then uses to run software programs.
Whether for business or personal use, its likely that over time personal or sensitive information will be stored on the laptop. Personal financing, email details, retail receipts and login information are common. If any of those are used regularly than you should consider the kind of information a thief can acquire through your laptop. Even if your banking and other financial information is password protected through a secure website the potential for data theft exists. If your bank offers paperless statements and you’ve decided to enroll, then likely your monthly statements are downloaded and filed away in a folder where you can effortlessly retrieve them when necessary. Those bank statements have all your information on them and are only a couple clicks away. Feeling secure knowing online receipts from your favorite retailer display only partial credit card numbers is good, but what about your login information for that retailer. If it is stored on the laptop a thief can use it to login and begin purchasing or simply copy your saved credit card information with that retailer. The point is most personal information is insecure by nature. Its not that we want to have insecure information its that current system configurations don’t allow for automatic protection of personal data. If protection is needed it is handled manually.
Encryption is the best solution for protecting personal information on your laptop. Encryption used to be a word only used by those with high level security jobs or a buzz word to promote media and entertainment. These days, it is more popular with the online community and those in the tech industry. Its now possible to secure all personal information, limit specific applications and even lock down the entire system. Additionally, multiple layers of protection can be implemented to secure data even further. Take our example of monthly bank statements, with encryption you can password protect the statements so they are secure. That’s a simple example of protecting your data through encryption but it illustrates the difference a small bit of protection can make. There are a variety of ways to protect data and further procedures to add additional layers of protection.
For more encryption details view our Computer Security and Privacy Services page.