Stolen laptops continue to be a massive problem, both for individuals and organizations. While the cost of the actual device is certainly a concern, the real value – and potential loss – lays with the sensitive data stored on the device. Rhode Island healthcare entity, Lifespan Health System, learned this last year when the Office for Civil Rights fined them $1.04 million in a HIPAA civil monetary penalty for the theft of an unencrypted laptop that was not properly managed and protected.
Organizations across every industry feel the crunch when devices go missing; data privacy regulations have widespread ramifications for allowing data to end up in the wrong hands. Fortunately, our customers have Absolute’s firmware-embedded endpoint defense platform to strengthen device and data security - which enables an undeletable digital tether to every endpoint and allows them to take action to lock, freeze or wipe if it falls into the wrong hands.
They also have the support of the Absolute Investigations Team. With years of experience working with law enforcement, their work has resulted in many impressive device recoveries. Here are a few of the most recent highlights:
An employee from a Canadian industrial and construction logistics company had a work laptop stolen from his car last year. After the company notified Absolute, investigators could see that the missing device came online once for a brief time and then fell silent. When it recently came back online, investigators captured an email address - which also provided a first and last name. They handed that information over to police detectives, who were able to track down the new user and recover the device. The user shared information on the pawnshop where they purchased the laptop, and police continue an investigation into unlawful activity at the shop.
A healthcare provider in Arkansas discovered one of their devices was missing and notified the Absolute Investigations Team. When the stolen laptop came online after the theft, investigators could determine the name and location of those in possession of the device - and turned that information over to law enforcement. Detectives contacted the new users and learned they had purchased it from a local pawnshop. In speaking with the pawnshop, detectives learned the device was brought in by someone who has sold numerous devices to that shop and others in the area. Absolute investigators discovered the man was a former employee of the healthcare organization and stole a total of 12 devices from his employer. The man and his wife, who was also a former company employee, have been charged with felony theft.
A man in Anaheim, California purchased a laptop at a Swap Meet. Upon getting it home, he decided to call the “If Found, Call Absolute” phone number located on a sticker on the back of the machine. Absolute investigators quickly determined which customer the device belonged to, notified them, and returned the device. The customer, an area school district, is grateful for good Samaritans and easy-to-implement device recovery tools.
Last year, a series of home burglaries were committed at a lakefront community in Iowa. One home was an Absolute customer’s residence, and a work laptop was among the items stolen. Absolute investigators were able to determine who was using the device post-theft, and it happened to be a man with a series of burglary arrests on his record. Using the information provided by Absolute, detectives obtained a search warrant for the individual’s home and discovered the stolen device. The suspect was arrested and is awaiting a court date - and the Absolute customer is thrilled with the device recovery.
Also read: Absolute Investigations March Roundup.
For more than 15 years, Absolute Investigations has helped organizations recover their stolen devices. Made up of former law enforcement professionals and other experts, Absolute Investigations uses forensics tools and techniques to locate devices at large and once found, they connect with local law enforcement to orchestrate their safe return. Learn more here.