Absolute and Ponemon Institute Study Shows Many Employees Undermine Traditional Data Breach Prevention Strategies
Study Finds 56% of U.S. Business Managers Disable Laptop Encryption, Increasing Risk of Data and Identity Theft
Vancouver, Canada and Traverse City, Michigan: January 13, 2009– Absolute® Software Corporationand the Ponemon Institute today announced the findings of a new study on the use of encryption on laptops by employees within corporations in the U.S. The study, "The Human Factor in Laptop Encryption: US Study," revealed that more than half (56%) of business (non-IT) managers polled, disable the encryption solution on their laptops. Ninety-two percent of IT security practitioners report that someone in their organization has had a laptop lost or stolen and 71% report that it resulted in a data breach. Results indicate that it is employee behavior that undermines data protection efforts in corporate America. Companion studies of UK and Canadian companies are also available.
"The data suggests that, because of user behavior, encryption alone is not enough to protect mobile devices and the sensitive data stored on them," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of The Ponemon Institute. "These statistics are especially disconcerting when combined with our recent studies demonstrating that lost or stolen laptops are the number one cause of data loss, with 3 out of 4 companies experiencing a data breach when a laptop has been lost or stolen.”
The report shows that many business managers fail to take necessary precautions to secure their laptops, such as using additional security solutions, and instead are overly dependent on their encryption solutions to protect the sensitive data on their laptops.
"The Human Factor in Laptop Encryption: U.S. Study" key findings include:
92% of IT security practitioners report that someone in their organization has had a laptop lost or stolen and 71% report that it resulted in a data breach;
56% of business managers have disengaged their laptop’s encryption;
Only 45% of IT security practitioners report that their organization was able to prove the contents of missing laptops were encrypted;
Only 52% of business managers – employees most likely to have access to the most sensitive data (personally identifiable information and/or intellectual property) – have employer-provided encryption;
57% of business managers either keep a written record of their encryption password, or share it with others in case they forget it;
61% of business managers share their passwords, compared to only 4% of IT managers; and,
Business managers are much more likely than IT security practitioners to believe encryption makes it unnecessary to use other security measures for laptop protection.
In the event of a theft, companies relying solely on encryption cannot be sure whether all stored data on a laptop has been encrypted, if it has been compromised, or even which files have been accessed by thieves. This can leave corporations with gaping holes in their security efforts, and risk exposing the company, employees, customers and consumers to data and identity theft. To help solve security risks that encryption alone cannot adequately address, companies can employ a security solution that can locate a stolen or lost laptop, detect which data has been accessed, and remotely delete sensitive data.
“This research highlights what Absolute has long-emphasized: while encryption technology provides a high-degree of data protection, it must be complemented by additional security layers that are not dependent on the diligent behavior of corporate employees,” John Livingston, chairman and CEO of Absolute Software said. “If I were tasked with data security, I would read this study in detail and immediately assess my company’s data protection strategy, especially if I was reliant solely on encryption. Corporations may incorrectly assume that since it is company policy to encrypt mobile data, they are not at risk for a data breach. With more than half of business managers disabling their encryption solutions, companies are left incredibly vulnerable to theft and data loss if they do not utilize additional layers of security, such as those offered by Absolute.”
Highlights and the complete reports for "The Human Factor in Laptop Encryption" studies for the U.S., U.K. and Canada can be found at:www.absolute.com/human-factor.
For more information on Absolute Software and its range of computer theft recovery, data protection and IT asset management solutions, please visit www.absolute.com or www.lojackforlaptops.com.
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Absolute empowers more than 12,000 customers worldwide to protect devices, data, applications, and users against theft or attack — both on and off the corporate network. With the industry’s only tamper-proof endpoint visibility and control solution, Absolute allows IT organizations to enforce asset management, security hygiene, and data compliance for today’s remote digital workforces. Absolute’s patented Persistence®technology is embedded in the firmware of Dell, HP, Lenovo, and 22 other leading manufacturers’ devices for vendor-agnostic coverage, tamper-proof resilience, and ease of deployment. See how it works atwww.absolute.comand follow us at@absolutecorp.