The million laptops that have gone missing in the past year are a business data time bomb, according to Sony’s VAIO Digital Business report 2013.
The report, which polled IT leaders at 600 UK businesses, blames bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices, poor security habits and a rebel workforce.
The findings show that one in four UK businesses have had a laptop lost or stolen in the past 12 months, but only 28% of those polled reported having anti-theft security features on their laptops as standard.
The research shows that businesses are failing to make use of existing security technologies to keep pace with rapidly changing working practices.
“Businesses should take advantage of this ready-and-waiting safety net, which can be easily implemented regardless of IT infrastructure,” the report said.
Data security was ranked as very important by 75% of respondents and loss of confidential company data was identified as the number one concern of nearly half of respondents.
Yet 90% admitted accessing company data from a personal device, regardless of corporate policy, and two-thirds of those surveyed admitted saving confidential business data on their laptops.
Some 46% of those polled said they would bypass company policy and bring in their own device if frustrated by their company-provided machine.
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Further compounding this problem, 66% said they take their work laptop home with them every day, with most laptops lost or stolen on trains, followed by private homes and airports.
Some 42% of respondents said they were using their own laptop for work and, for 88% of business laptop users, it is the machine they use in the office as well as remotely.
The study showed that 82% are not changing their password on a monthly basis, 20% of respondents said they never change it and 17% only do so when prompted to.
Despite these trends, the report said businesses are not investing enough in securing their data, with nearly half spending less than £1,000 a year on laptop security and only 28% of business laptops being fitted with anti-theft security as standard, even though many security features require only simple activation.
The report said while 56% of those surveyed had remote back-up software and 42% had some form of data encryption, only 25% had remote lockdown and only 18% had location tracking enabled.
According to the report, what people look for in a business laptop is a clear reflection of the modern mobile approach to work.
The top feature for most users is long battery life, followed by rapid boot-up, weight and a good range of connectivity options.
The research found that even though people realise the importance of security, finger print security access was the least in-demand feature.
“This indicates that the issue isn’t awareness, but education on how to use the security features laptops already have,” the report said.