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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Preventing Laptop Theft

laptop_183544As more and more companies issue laptops to employees, the chances of losing a laptop (and the data stored on it) to theft are much greater. Follow these guidelines to help keep your laptops safe.

Communicate Employee Responsibility

If your company issues laptops to employees, be sure to communicate that your employees have a responsibility to care for them.

Employees’ work laptops may have their personal information on them—stored website signin information, name, address, work documents, etc.—and they may not realize it. Making employees aware that the theft of a work laptop could personally affect them can be an incentive for them to protect their computers.

It may be beneficial for you to provide a security cable lock when you issue laptops to employees. A cable lock works similarly to a bike lock—one end of the cable has a lock that goes into the laptop’s security slot and the other end is attached to a heavy stationary object, such as a desk. This type of lock works as a visual deterrent, as well, making the laptop less appealing to a thief.

Give your employees frequent laptop safety reminders and updates on new scams or theft tactics. Laptop safety is not a one-time thing—making security a habit will keep your company’s property and information safe.

Laptops That Don’t Leave the Office Are at Risk, Too

A laptop that never leaves the office should not be considered safe from theft. If the laptop is not locked to a docking station or desk, it is vulnerable.

An employee who is planning to quit or who is feeling disgruntled may see stealing a laptop as an easy score. One way to protect your company laptops is to apply tamperproof metal labels with your company name and contact information to each laptop. There are many types of tamperproof labels available, such as labels that etch a permanent message or break into tiny pieces when removed. The labels can also be used to track inventory and software updates.

Deterring theft can also be achieved by engraving the company name on laptops. This will discourage employees from stealing them, because the permanent engraving decreases the resale value.

Use Encryption Software

The physical loss of a laptop may not be as devastating as the loss of the information and data stored on that laptop.

Encryption software uses mathematical algorithms and an encryption key to encode data so that only someone who has the encryption key can read it. There are three different encryption methods you can use, based on the sensitivity of your data. Make sure you choose the right level of protection for your company.

  • Full disk encrypts an entire disk, including all its data. This method is used to encrypt laptops, desktops and mobile devices.
  • Individual file encrypts a single file or creates an encrypted repository for file storage.
  • Data transit encrypts during a transfer, but does not guarantee encryption once the data reaches its destination.

To protect the interests of your company and employees, all devices should be encrypted and require passwords for access.

Install Tracking Software

Tracking software is often called “anti-theft” software—it tracks your laptop to its current location using IP address locations, GPS or Wi-Fi positioning. A stolen laptop can be easier to recover if you’ve installed tracking software before the theft.

Some software can take a photo of the thief if the thief turns on the computer, showing his or her identity. If the thief sells the laptop to someone, capturing the new user’s identity is helpful for finding the thief.

Tracking software can also take screenshots of what the thief is doing on your computer, which is helpful if the thief signs in to his or her own personal accounts. Some software can lock the thief out to prevent him or her from logging on to your computer at all, and some software can remotely delete sensitive data from the hard drive if you tell it to.

Keep in mind that tracking software alone does not prevent theft—your employees’ actions and habits play a major role, too. Contact Precept Insurance & Risk Management today to learn more about defending your company’s laptops against theft.


© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Cyber Extortion Hits Close to Home

“It took me 26 hours of work… without sleep… to get the network back online. Not fun…” says Richard Mash of Network Partners.  In his most recent encounter with hackers Mr. Mash was helping his client, a local small business, after the hackers stole and encrypted the client’s information, demanding a ransom.

Mr. Mash continues “The client’s network became infected with a really nasty virus called CryptoLocker. The virus was sent to them in an email with an attachment that was supposedly a resume from a job applicant. Not surprisingly, someone in the HR department opened the attachment and within minutes the network was infected with a virus and all their critical data files were encrypted… The authors of the virus demanded a significant amount of money in return for decrypting the files, effectively holding the company to ransom. Luckily, we had good backups of all their data and we were able to recover everything without paying the ransom request. The important thing to note is this company had 3 different levels of anti-virus protection, all of which allowed the virus to penetrate the network.

I’m sure all of you are aware that computer viruses can be spread by email. Even though many of us maintain excellent anti-virus products on our networks to help protect our data from viruses, these programs are not 100% foolproof.  We also need help from our employees to keep important data safe.”

Mr. Mash shared some very helpful tips with ABEX to help us protect our network so we don’t encounter a similar problem.  We thought these tips would be worth sharing with you so that you can protect your network from viruses.  The most important thing is to be vigilant about emails that you receive:

  • NEVER open an attachment in an email that comes from someone you do not know or do not trust.
  • A simple rule of thumb: NEVER click on a link in an e-mail and avoid opening attachments if at all possible (Especially ZIP archives). And, if a link must be clicked on in an e-mail, hover the mouse cursor over the link to see where it leads to. If it looks suspicious please ask!
  • These emails may seem to come from companies that you trust, like Canada Post or UPS. If you are not expecting a “delivery notification” from a courier, then don’t open it.
  • Banks or Credit Unions will not send you unsolicited emails with attachments… ever. Just delete them.

How can businesses protect themselves?

To manage and minimize the potential damage from a cyber attack, companies should employ a comprehensive cyber risk management strategy that along with a cyber insurance also includes appropriate loss control techniques, an assessment of company’s networks vulnerabilities, and employee security awareness training.

Businesses should make sure that their cyber insurance policy coveres costs in case the company is unable to access its computer system, the system is infected by a virus, confidential information is compromised, or its brand and reputation is tarnished by posts on social media. In addition, the policy should cover the cost of independent computer security consultant to assess any threats, prevent immediate threats, offer reward to prevent perpetrators of the threat and reimbursement of any ransom the company is required to pay in the event above measures fail to mitigate the threat against them.

Please contact ABEX today for more information on our cyber risk management process.



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