More than four out of five firms have lost a laptop computer containing sensitive data in the past year, new research has found.
The scale of potential data loss was revealed earlier this year, when a laptop from the US Department for Veterans Affairs, holding confidential information on 26.5 million former soldiers, was stolen from the home of a member of staff.
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The survey of nearly 500 US information security professionals found that 81% of their firms had lost a laptop in the past year and 64% had never made an inventory of sensitive consumer information. The same proportion had never inventoried employee data.
Sensitive corporate data was at the greatest risk when held on PDAs and laptop machines, the survey by the Ponemon Institute and data security firm Vontu found. Data stored on USB memory sticks, desktop computer systems and shared file servers was also vulnerable.
The surveyed security professionals were not confident of establishing what data had been lost if a company machine went missing. When asked how long it would take to determine what sensitive data was on a lost or stolen laptop, desktop computer, file server or mobile device, the most frequent answer was "never".
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