A sorry tale of a CEO and his laptop

As the CTO of a data protection and encryption company I hear many tales of woe from senior executives who have confessed to losing their laptops. Here is...

As the CTO of a data protection and encryption company I hear many tales of woe from senior executives who have confessed to losing their laptops. Here is one such tale of woe, albeit fictional, that I have heard time and time again, writes Chris Burchett, CTO and co-founder of Credant Technologies.

"Where do I begin, was it a fortuitous meeting in the bar at the Dorchester Hotel?

"Sarah Smith our top deal closer defected to our main competitor so it was lovely to bump into her and catch up with how life was going and I actually thought that I might be able to persuade her to come back. How wrong was I!

"I didn't even realise that my laptop was gone at first.

"I left it a few days in case it turned up, but eventually rang Simon in IT. I thought his reaction of almost squealing down the phone to my admission that actually I had been too busy to install the software, after seeing his e-mail about following his simple, must-do instructions for our company's new 'state-of-the-art' encryption solution, a tad over the top! He also wasn't too happy that my password was my surname56 - he seemed amazed that every month, when I was forced to change, I just increased the number.

"Simon wanted to know if there were any documents that could potentially cause a problem and of course there weren't, except perhaps the Microsoft Word document with the usernames and passwords I used, and the networking details to connect the laptop to the network. He was annoyed again, well, so was I, how much had we spent on security software with no real return?

"I received my new laptop, complete with encryption that I couldn't bypass, and I thought that was the end of it. In fact, it was just the beginning.

"At first it was little things.

"The list of companies that had been identified by Tim, the new business development manager, had all been approached by Sarah's company in the past few days. Any appointments we did secure declined our proposals citing they had been given a better deal. Tim was quickly given his marching orders.

"I then started receiving complaints from existing clients with some of the miscellaneous costs on their service invoices, some had been with us for almost ten years and never seemed to mind before.

"I think what first aroused a fragment of suspicion was Sarah's company launching 'Chrysoar' the week before we were due to release 'Pegasus'. Everyone we had booked advertising with was carrying theirs the week before ours. Even their press release was the same. We won't be using that Communications Agency again!

"I think the penny started to drop when all our top performing employees received approaches offering alternative employment. Every offer played to what the individuals hold dear.

"When I received the brown envelope, with pictures of me and my 'lady friend', with a request for £100,000 for it to remain between the three of us, I realised that perhaps my laptop might be haemorrhaging its secrets.

"The meeting between me, senior management, IT and the security team was an interesting one. You could have heard a pin drop when I confessed that perhaps there were some documents on my laptop that could potentially be sensitive in the wrong hands.

"To top it all, the sniggering as I walk through the corridors is driving me insane - especially as I know I deserve it.

"Ah well, after today I'll be able to draw a line under the whole sorry affair. I wonder what it's going to be like not having to get up tomorrow to go to work?"

I am sure we all recognise the hapless CEO in this sorry tale. It is true that our story is completely fictitious - but it is based on real events happening in organisations every day. Make sure it doesn't happen in yours.

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