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The $50,000 Laptop

By Steve Jones,

wrote a long time ago about the value of the data on a laptop being worth more than the hardware. That's certainly true for me, and I very much worry more about losing the data on my devices than the any of the devices themselves. I use sync services to keep a backup of most things, but I still worry about losing any of my bits. 

There was a large study competed recently, called The Billion Dollar Lost Laptop Program, which examined 329 organizations. The idea was to find out the economic costs of lost laptops related to various public and private entities. The conclusion? The average value of a lost laptop, just one laptop, is $49,000. The conclusions say that least expensive part of losing a laptop of replacing the hardware.

As we would expect, most losses occurred away from the office, however it's not known how many of these losses might be targeted thefts. Many of the losses did occur through theft, which is disturbing when most of these disks did not have encryption in place. This was true even when confidential data was contained on the laptop.  It is nice to see that companies that realize they were targets of theft, as opposed to losses, typically do use encryption.

As the study shows, there are a lot of costs that go into replacing a laptop. Many people don't think of all of these costs, and even if the costs are double what they should be, these are still substantial costs for companies to absorb. The costs will only go up in the future, especially as more and more people move from desktop workstations to laptops.

The one positive note? Encrypting the laptop almost cuts the loss in half. A good reason to require encryption on all laptops.

Steve Jones


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