SPOT Cybersecurity Tip: What to do BEFORE your laptop is lost or stolen

Cybersecurity Tip from The Fulcrum Group
Click to read more SPOT Cybersecurity Tips on LinkedIn.

What Happens if Your Laptop is Lost or Stolen?

You just finished a long day at work, you pack up your laptop, and you decide to meet a friend for dinner on the way home from work. After dinner, you head back to car, and as you walk up, you see shatter glass. What happened? In that moment, you realize your car has been broken into, and your laptop is stolen. Or maybe you leave your laptop in Starbucks, and by the time you realize it and drive back to get it, it’s no longer there.

You might not realize it, but without appropriate security being setup on your laptop, it’s pretty easy for a thief to get all of your data, even without knowing your password. They can easily remove your laptop hard drive, drop it into a USB drive cradle, and read all of your data.

If you work in an industry with compliance, such as healthcare, finance, or local government, you may need to report the lost laptop and potential data breach. Even if you just work for a typical small business, there could still be significant risk, such as loss of sensitive data or company intellectual property.

What You Should do BEFORE Your Laptop is Lost or Stolen

I know, I know. It’s hard to think about that AFTER your laptop is stolen, so this precautionary tale is being told to motivate you and your company to get this done NOW instead of later.

Step 1: Enable Bitlocker or other whole disk encryption. Whole disk encryption will effectively block anyone from accessing the data on your hard drive without the encryption key. Take that, Thief! Pro Tip: Use a centrally managed whole disk encryption tool such as Sophos Central Device Encryption. This tool will allow you to recover your encryption keys, and provide reporting and alerting on the status of your whole disk encryption across your organization.

Step 2: Enable Your Laptop’s Tracking Feature. Windows 10 and MacOS both offer a Find My Laptop feature. You can also use 3rd party software tools such as Absolute Control to provide additional capabilities such as Remote Wipe or Remote Device Freeze.

Step 3: Make sure your Laptop’s data is being backed up or synced to the cloud. Microsoft OneDrive or another cloud backup/sync tool should do the job just fine. If your company subscribes to Microsoft 365, OneDrive is the recommended choice, as it is included with your subscription.

Step 4: Use a Password Manager to manage all of your web passwords. We recommend Keeper Password Manager, but there are many good ones out there. Change all of your web passwords to unique, random, strong passwords for every web site you regularly visit, especially banks, shopping, and social media.

What You Should do AFTER Your Laptop is Lost or Stolen

Hopefully you’ve heeded our advice above, but if you didn’t, here are some steps you can take to possibly recover your laptop and protect yourself and your data.

Step 1: Use Find My Laptop or Absolute Software to Find Your Laptop. Once you’ve located it, lock it, and notify the Police.

Step 2: Protect Yourself AND Your Data. Notify your bank and freeze your credit cards, as your credit card information is likely stored on your laptop. Verify your data has been backed up to OneDrive or other cloud backup/sync tool, then remotely wipe your data if you have software installed that can perform that function. Login to the web version of your password manager and change all of your critical web passwords.

If your Managed IT Provider isn’t recommending centralized solutions to protect your organization from the threats of lost or stolen laptops, please reach out to us to schedule a FREE discussion on how to better protect your organization.