Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Loss of a personal portable electronic device

Most of us routinely carry many portable computing devices which vary in shape, colour, size and function. From expensive laptops, tablets and smartphones to cheaper eBook readers, portable hard drives and USB drives.  Invariably, some of us lose one or more of these items through theft, physical damage, electronic failure or misplacement. 

For an individual owned device, the largest cost is the replacement value of the asset.  But there are other inherent but non-tangible risks; such as the disclosure of personal data like intimate pictures and private correspondence, the potential misuse of email and social network accounts, and the access to stored business data and emails.

Being aware off and alert in the situations where the probability of losing these devices is the highest - is in itself an effective safeguard against loss. Based on statistics, theft is most likely to occur at home or from a car, physical damage through lax handling during travel, and misplacement at security checkpoints in airports, hotel rooms and in rented cars. Individuals are most vulnerable when in a hurry, have things on their mind, act carelessly or in anger and carry to many gadgets.

Safety tips that can be kept in mind are:

1.    Label the device with your name, address, email id and telephone number to assist in its return

2.    Use full disk encryption to prevent access to data - both personal and business

3.    Use strong passwords to log onto the Operating System (e.g. Windows) to delay access to email and social networking application where passwords were automatically saved by the browser. We can only delay and not prevent access, as the operating system password can be found out using password cracking tools.

4.    Take backups

5.    Use protective cases to prevent physical damage during travel

6.    Immediately change all passwords to email and social networking applications where passwords were saved by the browser. Preferably, disable the browser function which saves passwords and take the trouble to key in passwords each time.

7.    Carry fewer devices

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