Singapore, Singapore (PressExposure) November 25, 2009 -- Data theft is becoming increasingly common as we move towards the digital age. Some forms of sensitive information that is frequently stolen include financial records, ATM passwords, credit card information and even ID numbers. There are 3 main types of data theft: identity theft, corporate data theft and data theft from stolen laptops.
Identity theft is a specialised form of data theft. It usually comprises of stolen personal information that includes an individual's full name, residential or official address, date of birth, social security number, email addresses and their passwords, phone numbers, details of family members, credit card numbers and bank account details.
The thief tends to use the stolen personal information to access the victim's bank accounts or other confidential details. The stolen personal information may also be used for impersonation or sold to third parties for profit.
Corporate data theft
Computerised office technology makes it easy for employees to steal important digital information from their employers. Research into stolen corporate digital information, such as intellectual property theft, revealed that almost 73 percent of employees surveyed had taken unauthorised key information from work before.
The most popular stolen items include e-mail address books, customer information databases, business proposals and presentations. Most culprits who were questioned admitted that they had either used office e-mail or USB Flash drives to get the stolen information off company computers.
Data theft from stolen laptops
Losing a laptop may have very serious implications. If your laptop gets stolen, all your financial data, emails, license numbers and other personal documents now belong to the thief who stole your laptop. For business travellers, these may also include company confidential information, business proposals that may be damaging to the company.
Protecting important laptop data
Physical security: Computer accessories companies, such as Targus and Kensington, manufacture chain locks that physically secure your laptop by tying it to an immovable object. These chain locks function similarly to bicycle locks. However, these locks also share the same disadvantage; namely, an experienced thief can undo the locks very easily.
Biometric security: While security passwords may be cracked or stolen, biometric identifiers are almost impossible to reproduce. It is the task of biometric systems to link a mathematical algorithm to the identifier, such as the retina of the eye, to determine if the user is authorised to use the computer. If an unauthorised person tries to use the computer, the failure of correct biometric identification will lead to the start-up failure of the laptop and thus, the data will remain protected.
Laptop identification procedures: If a laptop is registered with the manufacturer before it gets stolen, it may actually give the owner a higher chance of getting it back. If the stolen computer is brought in for repairs at a company service centre in the future, the device will be listed as stolen and steps will be taken to notify the victim and the authorities.
Personalising the laptop: To drastically increase the chances of getting the laptop back should it be stolen, the owner is encouraged to personalise it. He or she may include the name and other personal information, such as addresses and phone numbers, somewhere on the laptop for easy identification and tracking. It will be a great help to the police to track the actual owner of the laptop.
Concealment: Try carrying a plain carry case or backpack to dramatically reduce the risk of laptop theft. The individual may then leave his or her notebook out on the coffee table or anywhere in the house. No one will suspect that there is an expensive notebook lying inside.
Preventing access to important data after laptop theft
BIOS password protection: BIOS password protection is a recommended option for laptop owners who are concerned about the possibility of data theft. A BIOS password makes it impossible for the thieves to boot into any operating system until it is answered. It's not foolproof however; many manufacturers have built 'backdoor' keystroke combinations into their systems that allow the bypass of even BIOS passwords. Still, BIOS password protection manages to stump most data thieves.
Set complicated passwords: The higher the combination of numbers, uppercase letters and symbols that a password has, the harder it is for anyone else to discover or crack.
Create backups: Laptop users should always back up their important files before leaving home. Likewise, when creating documents while travelling, burn them to a CD as soon as possible and carry the disk in separate luggage.
Disk encryption: Disk encryption is the scrambling of all the data on the hard drive as a form of data protection. Full-disk encryption protects the computer once it's powered on, and users only need to enter the password once to access the computer.
Hard disk password security lock: Hacking into a hard disk with password security lock is almost impossible. Besides making sure that no one can access the drive without entering the correct password, this security lock also ensures that moving the lock hard drive into another machine will not unlock it, and the password cannot be reset simply by reformatting the disk.
Set password protection for your files: Utilise the free security tools provided by Windows operating system and use password protect on your important files and folders. This will decrease the chances of someone hacking into your computer and accessing your sensitive data.
Even if you only choose to carry out some of the above suggestions, your laptop will be much more likely to stay with you for at least the duration of its warranty. Back up your data and use the provided security measures. Should your notebook ever gets lost or stolen, your important data will at least remain safe in your hands.