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Lost laptops cost companies $50k apiece

Encryption no match for corporate accounting

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A single lost or stolen laptop costs a business an average of nearly $50,000. At least, that's the word from an Intel-sponsored study by the Ponemon Institute.

That figure is based on Ponemon's recent voluntary survey of 28 US companies reporting 138 separate cases of missing laptops.

Value of missing kit was mathmagically calculated by factoring laptop replacement, data breach cost, loss of productivity, investigation cost, and other variables.

The value of a lost lappy to a firm cost an average of $49,246, according to Ponemon. Minimum damage calculated in the survey was about $1,200, and the maximum reported value was just short of a cool $1m.

By far, the cost of a data breach was found to be the most expensive part of losing a lappy, eating up about 80 per cent of the total average cost to a company.

But Ponemon said company chiefs that leave their machines lying around aren't the biggest risk to a firm. While they found lost laptop data generally correlates to the position level of the worker, there's a big drop in value when it comes to executives.

Loss of a laptop used by mid-level managers and directors would cost a company about $60,000 on average, according to the study, while the CEO's machine isn't even worth half that. Larry Ponemon, founder of the institute concludes it's likely because managers and directors have the most vital data on a biz, while executives...not so much.

Obviously, he's not factoring in the worth of blackmail.

Consulting firms, law firms, financial services, healthcare, pharmaceutical, education, and technology are companies which would take the biggest financial hit from a lost notebook, according to the study. Tech firms top the list when just factoring the cost of IP loss and lost productivity.

The Ponemon peeps claim a lost laptop that has encryption will cost a company about $40,000, while a machine without encryption runs up an average of $60,000. That's a $20k difference — but still a peculiarly large amount of damage being done by a supposedly secure laptop. Ponemon suspects the reason encrypted costs aren't zero because the encryption may have not been implemented properly. Alas, the sticker on the box alone doesn't do much to deter a crook from looking.

A copy of the study is available here. Oh, by the way — the reason it's Intel-sponsored is because the study finds Chipzilla's Vpro anti-tampering tech will save the day and make you more attractive to the opposite sex. ®

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