Notebook PCs a liability – Compaq

Business under threat from PC insecurity

A survey conducted on Compaq's behalf by MORI has concluded that business is under threat because of the lack of notebook security.

MORI surveyed over 2000 businesses in the UK on Q's behalf and discovered that 60 per cent of employees do not use a password when they log on to a notebook or PC while over 75 per cent do not take adequate security precautions when they're being road warriors, and toting their expensive little machines around the world.

There's an agenda here, of course. Compaq wants to push a new fingerprint "biometric reader" it's just about to launch.

According to the research, up to 50 per cent of support calls to IT help desks are because people forget their passwords, while 15 per cent of people use their own name as their password.

Over half the people surveyed think that their laptops are susceptible to theft, while 35 per cent, and we're not sure if these figures overlap, make things worse by putting all their confidential business data eggs into the notebook basket.

Compaq puts forward some guidelines for road warriors guilty of these sins of commission and omission. You should always store the serial number of your laptop separately from your laptop.

When security want to bung your bags through their systems, delay putting your notebook on the line until you're the next one through. Don't leave your notebook in the car. Lock your notebook away when it's not being used. Don't leave it on display in your hotel room. Never let it out of your sight wherever you are.

Never write down passwords, and especially don't scribble passwords in the same bag as your notebook. (Some passwords are pretty hard to remember, aren't they? Try committing L17jE53MF321246 to memory). Encrypt data (cough).

All of this leads us to the inevitable conclusion that MORI survey suggests that notebooks are an expensive and insecure crock of dung at the end of a sepia rainbow. If they weren't so expensive in the first place, they wouldn't be so desirable. Ah for those good old days of the first Compaq luggable, which it would be hard for anyone to steal at a fast lick.

Although Compaq doesn't give this piece of advice, never use your notebook on an aeroplane or train when the person sitting next to you could be a journalist. You will be able to tell this if they seem to order more drinks than others on the flight/train, and have a scruffy demeanour about them, while still travelling first or business class.

Oh, and notebooks break easily too... ®

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