When data goes on vacation

According to IDC, 60 per cent of all corporate information is mobile and resides on desktops and laptops that are unprotected. That means travelers working on vacation have a 20 to 60 per cent chance of losing data as a result of hardware failure, theft, user error or viruses.

Also, each year,

10 per cent of laptops are lost or stolen and 15 per cent fail (IDC). The following are EDS’ eight tips for protecting data while on vacation.

1. Test, test, test —Synchronize your laptop and mobile devices with your corporate network and test your ability to dial into the network from the road.

2. Backup your work —Reduce business risks by backing up your work with either manual data backups to CD-ROM. Some employers provide remote workers with a mobile information protection system that backs up and restores corporate data on desktop via a Web portal.

3. Protect your electronics with a password —Access to phones, PDA’s and laptop computers should be password-protected at a minimum. Consider available data encryption tools for your laptop if it contains sensitive or personal data. You don’t want someone accessing your company information on your stolen electronics.

4. Stay secure on the road —Consider the security of your surroundings when using your laptop. Restaurants, airport lounges don’t offer encryption. If possible, use the company’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) that encrypts your data. A low-tech way for someone to access your personal information is by looking over your shoulder as you use your laptop or a phone card in public. Cover your information by keeping it close to you as you work.

5. Remain cautious of unknown sources — Don’t open email or attachments from sources you do not recognize. Be suspicious of familiar-looking emails with only an attachment and no message. Most viruses or other malicious code are introduced onto a PC via enticing emails opened by unsuspecting users.

6. Be cautious with file sharing — Be very careful when sharing your computer with other internet users through programs such as shareware or freeware. You may be granting total access to your PC to someone whose intent goes beyond just sharing files with you. For example, spyware has only recently become a major security issue given that it enables someone to view a user’s passwords, content, etc. without the user’s permission or knowledge.

7. Keep an eye on your electronics — A frequent location for stolen and lost electronic devices is the airport security checkpoint. Pay special attention to the location of your electronic valuables, like a laptop, cell phone or wireless device, as you place them on the belt and pass through security scanners. Do not allow yourself to be distracted and alert security if something looks unusual.

8. Prepare your hardware — Maximize the physical security of your laptop or mobile devices by adding locks, using protective bags and properly labeling each piece with your contact information. Also, make sure that you have all the power adaptors, cords, battery backups/chargers necessary for the specific location.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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