George Foot was recently appointed to lead Kensington’s European Business Division, having previously been the Director of Northern Europe. He leads a team of 60 sales and marketing professionals across 14 different markets. Foot is responsible for setting the vision and strategy for the region, Go-To-Market delivery and sales performance.
Q1. Today’s professional is highly mobile, with access to everything needed to execute tasks efficiently, maximising their effectiveness. Whilst employers and employees benefit from increased productivity provided by mobile devices they are also mindful that these devices are at risk of theft. How big is this risk?
It’s true, speed of response is critical in todays business environment and mobile devices are the tools we employ to deliver this. Mobile devices such as notebook PCs, BlackBerrys and data storage drives are rapidly becoming irreplaceable for all of us. This does come at a cost. The biggest fear for most organisations is the loss of customer information, and these fears are not unfounded. The cost of recovering from theft goes far beyond replacing the hardware, there’s the cost of customer confidence. In addition there are fines. A UK financial institution was recently fined £2.5m by the regulators for the misplacing of customer records.
A 2007 IDC study showed that the chances of retrieving a stolen notebook are less than 3 percent, so for the remaining 97 percent there is a lot that is unknown, and this simply heightens the fear endured by organisations when they suffer notebook theft that they have been targeted for their data.
Mobility is not a new concept, but the way in which we manage the data stored across multiple mobile devices requires a mindset change.
Q2. What do you mean by ‘mindset change’, George?
Well, all organisations have data protection policies and procedures to protect the security of the data for which they are responsible. Unfortunately, data is only as secure as the devices on which it is stored. Mobile devices are highly portable and thus vulnerable to loss or theft. Network security breaches are feared and the investments made to protect against breaches mirrors this fear. Organisations of all sizes need to ensure their data’s security as well as protect themselves against theft of data storage devices such as notebook PCs and PDAs. Notebook PCs and other mobile devices put organisations at risk. The risk is manageable but organisations first need to recognise the risk. This is the mindset change I refer to.
Q3. That’s interesting George, but once outside of the policed and protected office environment data is in the hands of it’s employees. How can companies safeguard their data in this situation?
In the past valuable data was protected behind the closed doors of the server room and the PC was safely tucked away in the office, there is now a large mobile workforce each with mobile devices storing valuable business information that is a temptation to the opportunistic thief as well as a living for the professional larcenist. Remember that data has been entrusted to the employee’s organisation by its customers. Whether data is lost or stolen from the office, at the departure gate or an employee’s home, the consequences are the same. The customer will, quite rightly, hold the organisation to account. By incorporating the use and management of mobile devices into company data management policies and increasing the awareness and appreciation of the impact of data loss amongst their mobile workforce, they can, if not safeguard, certainly take steps towards reducing risk of theft.
Q4. Considering the current economic landscape, budgets are likely to be scrutinised more than ever.
Hardware theft protection is an investment. The hardware cost of theft is difficult enough to swallow, but the disruption to business and the risk to customer information, employee records or sensitive company data is far worse.
Research shows that 49 percent of SMEs take 2 to 4 days to replace a laptop, causing huge disruption for the user, in fact approximately 17 percent of the total cost to the business is attributed to lost man hours and the time spent sourcing and setting up a replacement laptop. Locking equipment helps prevent theft.
Virtually all IT hardware features the industry standard Kensington slot, or K-slot, and notebook PCs are no exception. The K-slot, and therefore the locks that make use of the K-slot, are universal, safeguarding against having to change the lock when hardware is upgraded.
Installation costs are also a factor. Installation of a lock is quick and easy and can be done by employees themselves– that’s great news for budget owners. Free key replacement and combination code recall services prove invaluable to both individuals and their organisations.
Q5. So by providing a lock an organisation safeguards itself against notebook theft?
It makes sense. Consider how many of your colleagues have acquired multiple power adapters for travel or home use. They do this for convenience and we recognise this requirement. People won’t use locks that are difficult to engage or cumbersome to carry. Locks vary in ease of use, portability and strength. Ensuring that the right lock for the right purpose is issued to the right user also protects the organisation’s investment.
Q6. It sounds like you are selling now…
That’s my job! And it’s the job of an organisation to protect its customers. Locks that are easy to use and carry are more likely to be used. There’s little point in locking a notebook in the office only to leave it vulnerable during the daily commute, overnight and weekends at home or at any point during business travel.
Couriers offer track and trace services over standard postal services. It may cost more but it’s reassuring. Notebook security is the same. It’s about peace of mind. Think about the two government data discs that went missing in 2007: I very much doubt that discs are simply posted now.
Q7. Some will say that data security is about data standards and policies and procedures.
That’s most definitely part of the answer. Companies can no longer afford to be complacent about the physical security of their laptop computers. We live in an age where barriers are no longer enough to protect your business, intellectual property, brand and company image. If you enforce a cohesive approach to information security – incorporating both physical and software security measures – you will save your business time, money and avoid potentially damaging embarrassment. Mangers will want to minimise the time and energy spent policing their direct reports and focus on the business of the day. That’s why it’s important to make the right investments that will help prevent notebook theft and data loss.
Sales & Marketing Director Kensington Europe
Kensington is the world’s number one selling notebook lock manufacturer and inventor of the industry standard K-slot.