InfoSec 2011: Laptop loss costing European firms billions


Lost laptops are costing Europe dearly, with thousands going missing over the last 12 months costing the continent's economy billions, a report has claimed.

From April 2010 to the same month this year, 72,789 laptops went missing from the 275 organisations taking part in the Intel and Ponemon Institute study.

The report, which extrapolated figures from a previous study, claimed the total economic impact for participating companies stood at 1.29 billion (1.13 billion) or, on average, 4.7 million per organisation.

To determine those numbers, the researchers extracted figures from 2009, which suggested the average value of one lost laptop was 35,284 when taking into account various costs - such as those covering intellectual property loss.

Glenn Le Vernois, from Intel's services program office, told IT PRO the 1.29 billion figure was clearly "huge," indicating businesses should sit up and take notice.

"If companies or individuals don't know how to actually get their hands around the problem and how to devise a strategy of attack [laptop loss] will continue to be an issue," Le Vernois said.

The report came after a significant laptop loss over at BP, which saw data of the claimants from the Deepwater Horizon disaster going missing.

Only 34 per cent of lost laptops had encryption, whilst just 26 per cent had backup capabilities. Only a measly seven per cent had other anti-theft features, according to the report.

The education and research sector was the worst offender for losing laptops, followed by health and pharmaceuticals, then the public sector.

"The companies - this goes for both Europe and US - that have the most amount of confidential data on their laptops, they do adopt encryption a little more, but still they have so many laptops that are not covered," Le Vernois added.

"Understand what you are carrying around, put a dollar amount on it and understand the economic impact on the business."

Symantec and Ponemon Institute data released last month showed the average data breach cost UK organisations 1.9 million in 2010, up 13 per cent from 2009 and 18 per cent from 2008.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.