What did you lose now?

weekly roundup How often have you misplaced your wallet, mobile phone or maybe, your laptop? If any of those items contained personal or confidential information, even that one time was too many and your identity could have been compromised.

weekly roundup How often have you misplaced your wallet, mobile phone or maybe, your laptop? If any of those items contained personal or confidential information, even that one time was too many and your identity could have been compromised.

The U.S. Justice Department this week determined that at least 10 notebook computers lost by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) held classified information over a four-year period, ending 2005. The laptops were thought to have carried information that identified FBI personnel and sensitive counterintelligence or counterterrorism data. These 10 notebooks were among 160 that were lost or stolen over the four years.

More worrying, the FBI could not determine if 51 additional lost or stolen laptops had contained sensitive or classified information, according to the Justice Department.

This apparent lack of vigilance is unacceptable in any company, much less in an organization that's responsible for fighting serious crimes and terrorism in a country. And yet, employees continue to lose laptops that contain sensitive information.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Hotels.com and Hewlett-Packard--among several others--were under the media spotlight for losing laptops that contained confidential information.

While theft can't always be prevented, companies can manage such risk by restricting the types of information that should be retained in an employee's laptop or other mobile device. And above all, common sense is usually the best defense--which means, you really shouldn't leave your laptop on your car seat or dashboard for all to see.

Data loss and theft will continue to plague businesses and consumers this year, so we'll all need to be more attentive about how we handle data.

Should governments consider penalizing companies that fail to implement and observe sound security policies? The U.K. Nationwide Building Society was recently fined £980,000 (US$1.9 million) after one of its employees' laptop was stolen. What do you think?

In other news this week, find out which HP server was conceived in Singapore and why a CIO's job just got tougher. It's also tough to get Microsoft to talk about its next Windows release, but getting YouTube clips on your Nokia handset will get easier soon.

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