Notebooks lost or stolen in airports, taxis, and hotels around the world cost their corporate owners an average of $49,246, reflecting the value of the enclosed data above the cost of the PC. This is revealed by a study on notebook security, commissioned by Intel Corporation.
The study, which was conducted by the Ponemon Institute, analyzes the potential business costs of stolen or lost notebook computers, suggesting that in an era where “the office” can be almost anywhere, good security precautions are essential.
Intel undertook the study to understand the problems and solutions associated with lost notebooks. The study reveals that sensitive data, not the notebook itself, is the primary factor driving costs upward. The study also suggests that use of products and technologies for encrypting data reduces the financial consequences.
Analyzing 138 instances of lost and stolen notebooks, the study based the $49,246 price tag on costs associated with replacement, detection, forensics, data breach, lost intellectual property, lost productivity, and legal, consulting and regulatory expenses. Data breach alone represents 80% of the cost.
“This is the first study to benchmark the full cost of a lost or stolen notebook,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “Some of the results are startling to say the least, pointing to the sizable consequences associated with the loss of notebooks and, more importantly, the data inside them that companies must consider.”
The study also shows that how quickly a company learns of the missing notebook plays heavily in the eventual cost. The average cost if the notebook is discovered missing the same day is $8,950, according to the study. After more than one week, this figure can reach as high as $115,849.
Who owns a missing notebook also plays an important role in the cost. Surprisingly, it is not the CEO’s computer that is the most valued, but a director or manager. A senior executive’s notebook is valued at $28,449, while a director or manager’s notebook is worth $60,781 and $61,040, respectively.
The study found that data encryption makes the most significant difference in the average cost: A lost notebook with an encrypted hard-disk drive is valued at $37,443, compared with $56,165 for a nonencrypted version.
According to Intel, its Anti-Theft Technology is a “poison pill” solution programmed into the PC that can be triggered by internal detection mechanisms or by a remote server to lock a lost or stolen notebook, rendering it completely useless.
The technology can respond, for example, to repeated login failures or expiration of a timer that requires a notebook to periodically connect to a central server. Intel Anti-Theft Technology, which is available from a growing number of PC manufacturers, is frequently offered through companies that provide data-encryption or deletion services.