Sometimes, All It Takes Is One Laptop To Spell A Security Disaster

Friday, January 16, 2015 10:10 am, Posted by Absolute Destruction

If you’ve been reading the business headlines over the past 12 months, you might have noticed an abundance of cases involving the theft of laptops from high profile companies, schools, hospitals, and other organizations—and the subsequent paranoia of impending identity theft. In many ways, 2014 could be seen as the year of stolen laptops, and a year in which countless officials began to realize the importance of advanced security features and appropriate electronic data destruction (the kind of service we are happy to provide!).

For NASA, this has been an ongoing and extremely problematic issue. From 2011 to 2012, this famous organization was the victim of several major security breaches, with one incident involving the exposure of over 2,300 students’ and NASA employees’ personal identification information (or PII). Each time, unencrypted laptops (or laptops without whole data encryption, or merely a password as defense) were stolen, giving thieves easy access to the data. Since then, NASA has taken more precautions, and has wisely suggested that official work-related laptops never be taken on loan or vacation, but the question remains — if so much depends upon a few simple codes and passwords, and a few simple computers, how can an organization really be sure that information is ever kept safe?

In June of 2014, an employee laptop was stolen from New Mexico State University that held the PII of 170 students. Though the theft probably did not lead to identity theft (the thief merely wanted to sell the computer), it raised the alarm among school officials regarding the ease with which such confidential information could be stolen. Similarly, a Community Technology Alliance employee had their laptop pinched from a parked car in July in California, exposing 1,777 people’s PII. In this case, the laptop was unencrypted, making the task of nabbing the information a breeze. In the same month, six laptops were stolen from the California-based Kleiner Perkins Claufield & Byers, a venture-capitalist firm, and in August in Los Angeles, a laptop was stolen from a Cedars-Sinai Medical Center employee’s home, putting the PII of 500 patients at grave risk.

In January 2014, Coca-Cola faced a comparable, though much more drastic, breach of security when an undisclosed amount of laptops — again unencrypted — were stolen by an employee who was charged with their appropriate recycling and disposal. In this case, a whopping 74,000 past and current Coca-Cola employees’ personal information was made available to the criminals. Why weren’t the laptops encrypted and properly protected? No comment from Coke!

If you are a business owner, the writing should by now be on the wall. First, understand that your electronic data should always be protected by the best security systems available. Second, you absolutely need to have a comprehensive and fool-proof system in place for the disposal of such equipment. Out-of-date or obsolete laptops, desktops, and other computer equipment need to be destroyed and recycled without risk of theft. Our electronic data destruction service — using an on-site, mobile crusher — guarantees that all your confidential employee, client, and associate information is reduced to such a state that no thief would be able to retrieve data from it. All materials are then taken to a secure recycling facility in accordance with environmental protocols. Without a doubt, we are the best way to ensure a completely clean slate when it comes to electronic equipment, keeping you and your dependents safe. Don’t let 2015 be the year of laptop theft, but of impenetrable security!

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