The Ponemon Institute’s latest report, “The Billion Dollar Laptop Study,” shows that 329 organizations surveyed lost more than 86,000 laptops over the course of a year. Based on these findings and an earlier survey that put the average cost of lost laptop data at $49,246, the total cost amounts to more than $2.1 billion or $6.4 million per organization.
Some other key findings of the report: (1) while 46 percent of the lost systems contained confidential data, only 30 percent of those systems were encrypted; (2) only 10 percent had any other anti-theft technologies; and (3) 71 percent of laptops lost were not backed up so all work in progress was lost.
At the release media event reported on by InformationWeek, Larry Ponemon explained that most of the cost “is linked to the value of intellectual property on these laptops and the fees associated with data breaches and statutory notification requirements.” During this same press conference, Ponemon recounted interviewing one woman at a company who had lost 11 laptops in two years: “She claimed she wasn’t really that careful with laptops because the only way she could get a better one was to lose it.”
It is this disconnect — the value of the information lost vs. the relative interest in the user in protecting such information — that becomes the ultimate challenge faced by most firms. Employee training remains the front line in addressing this challenge but having employees pay for their lost corporate laptops may actually yield more desirable results. It would be interesting to have the next Ponemon lost laptop study include the ratio of lost business laptops compared to lost personal laptops, i.e., those actually purchased by an employee.