Category Archives: Data Security

Data protection deficit detected in UK corporate laptops

A study has found that a majority of laptops operated by corporations in the UK are not properly secured against data loss, theft or security breaches.

Security firm Check Point gathered data from 130 firms in the public and private sector and it concluded that a total of 52 per cent of laptops remain unencrypted and rife for exploitation by cybercriminals.

This figure is believed to be attributable to the fact that many organisations are pushing for widespread integration of personal devices, including employee laptops and smartphones, into corporate systems.

Fifty-five per cent of respondents said that personal devices were used by employees for work matters and 39 per cent asserted that, for the time being, there is no policy for adding to the security of these potentially hazardous additions.

Thirty-seven per cent of UK organisations have banned personal devices from being used for work, while 61 per cent have implemented restrictions on access from unapproved devices.

Check Point’s Nick Lowe explained that the findings of the survey are consistent with similar studies carried out over the preceding three years. This shows that encryption levels are stagnating and many firms are failing to recognise the potential for data loss or infection posed by the use of personal devices.

Mr Lowe implies that there is a discrepancy between the high profile examples of how a lack of encryption can be damaging and the number of businesses and public sector organisations who have actually taken heed of the warnings repeated over the years. He pointed to the data loss suffered by HMRC in 2007 as a case that should have inspired greater investment in encryption, but, as the figures show, has not.

Mr Lowe believes that many IT workers are concerned about the ongoing consumerisation of corporate systems which is progressing at a pace that leaves many exposed following an influx of unsecured personal smartphones and laptops. He thinks an increase in training as well as alterations to policy will allow businesses to tackle these issues and prevent data loss in the future.

Celebs suffer data loss after theft of laptops

Public attention has been turned onto the potential damage that can be caused by the theft of a portable computer, after two celebrities became victims of this crime, losing significant personal data in the process.

Hollywood star Keira Knightly was one of the high profile targets who had reported two laptops taken during a break-in, according to police. Obviously the data stored on these devices could be of significant value to the tabloid press and there are concerns that the criminals will be able to make financial gains from the private information, either via blackmail or direct sale.

This news has come shortly after it was claimed an as yet anonymous pop singer was coerced by criminals, after pictures stored on a stolen laptop were used as leverage.

In this second incident two laptops manufactured by Apple were stolen from the singer, who is said to be internationally renowned, after which images depicting sensitive scenes were used to blackmail the artist.

Data security expert Christ McIntosh, said that thanks to these incidents, public awareness about how criminals who steal laptops are able to exploit the data which they contain, will be increased.

Mr McIntosh pointed out that while most data loss scandals involve public or private sector organisations, these thefts prove that individuals can be just as much at risk from similar catastrophes.

Since many people store financial details, private pictures and personal data on laptops, any exposed computing equipment becomes a target for criminals, valued more than the basic worth of the hardware alone.

Mr McIntosh is insistent that the public has no reason to live in a constant state of fear, but believes there are steps that everyone should take in order to minimise the likelihood of being impacted by data loss or theft.

Password protection, encryption of data and browsing history deletion are just a few of the recommended actions to take, along with a policy of never noting down information relating to banking, so that if a laptop is stolen, it is of little use to the criminals.

Data loss overtakes physical theft in global business community

Businesses from around the world are now more likely to suffer from data loss and digital theft, than the actual appropriation of material assets, according to a report conducted by Kroll.

The latest Annual Global Fraud Report found that 27.3 per cent of firms have announced the theft of data during the last year. In 2009 this figure was just 18 per cent, showing that there has been a significant increase.

There has been a smaller drop in the number of businesses reporting the theft of material goods, with 2009’s level of 28 per cent, falling to 27.2 per cent in 2010.

Kroll’s Richard Plansky, said that he anticipates this to be a continuing trend that is gathering momentum. He puts this down to the fact that information is now the lifeblood of the global economy and as such, businesses place greater importance on concepts rather than tangible products.

Speaking to Infosecurity Magazine, Mr Plansky explained that the move towards the digital age was both beneficial and a hindrance. While giving greater access to important information can improve productivity, he also said that this allows those with malicious plans a greater chance to influence and corrupt data.

The survey concluded that it was those businesses in the financial sector that had seen the most significant increase in the number of data theft incidents, up to 42 per cent from 24 per cent in 2009. Media and telecoms firms were also hit with a big increase which saw 37 per cent report data theft incidents in 2010.

The increasing complexity of network infrastructures is being labelled as the key cause for heightening the threat of security breaches by 28 per cent of those questioned as part of the survey. In turn nearly half of all firms are going to invest in data protection within the coming year, which is actually a drop of three per cent compared to the previous 12 month period.

Only firms with revenues in excess of half a billion dollars were included in this survey, so the significant threat of data theft is clearly being felt on a global scale in all industries.

Portable devices pose problems for UK IT managers

A new study has found that those in charge of IT management in the UK are failing to keep tabs on the various mobile and portable devices which are used within a given business or organisation, increasing the risks of data loss or theft.

Seventy-five per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by Absolute Software, said that within larger businesses they could not reliably give the precise location of their laptops at a given time. Within SMEs (small and medium-size enterprises) this figure was at the 50 per cent mark.

Sixty-five per cent of those questioned said that they had at one point or another lost or mislaid their mobiles. This is said to show that it is becoming increasingly difficult for IT managers to track and monitor the usage of portable devices, as they are more prolifically employed across businesses of all sizes.

Absolute Software’s Dave Everitt, said that an overall improvement to the management of IT assets was clearly a necessity in the majority of businesses and organisations, to help prevent data loss or theft of mobile devices.

Mr Everitt continued by saying that there was a greater reliance on mobile and portable devices to help increase productivity within businesses in both a working and home environment. He said that this proliferation of portable devices capable of storing sensitive data, meant that IT managers would need to increase their awareness of not only where employees are using such devices, but also how they are being used to avoid disaster.

Forty-four per cent of respondents revealed that the use of both PC and Mac technology, meant that in many cases it was impossible to track both platforms when in use on a single network.

Various significant statistics relating to the loss of portable and mobile devices from within big businesses and organisations, have been released in recent times, with the BBC, The Ministry of Justice and others forced to admit large losses, because of requests put in under the Freedom of Information Act.

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