The “Lost Laptop” as a High-Risk Security Endpoint

    The “Lost Laptop” as a High-Risk Security Endpoint

    IT enterprise information asset management includes lifecycle management, user authentication management, data storage security, and network security. IT staff need to track thousands of devices, manage installed applications, prevent unauthorized users from logging in, perform constant network monitoring. While staff also need to ensure both internal (such as firewall-based) security, relatively little consideration is given to ensure protection for endpoint resources is in place.

    What is an endpoint?

    While many see the company firewall as the ultimate enterprise threat and security barrier, there is an often-overlooked extension to the enterprise firewall – external endpoint devices. As a broad definition, endpoint resources include user devices in a distributed computing system, usually as Internet-connected PC hardware on a TCP/IP network.

    While many endpoint resources include the desktop workstations one would find within a traditional company workplace, there are also many external endpoint devices to consider. Falling within this external group are cellular telephones, tablets, large (desktop) PC workstations, and portable business laptops and notebooks.

    The endpoint threat

    A new IT security study released in January 2020 concludes that organizations are not making sufficient progress in reducing endpoint security risk, especially against new and unknown threats. This research covering events that took place in 2019 shows that 68% of IT security professionals polled say their companies suffered at least one endpoint attack that compromised IT infrastructure or data assets. This indicates an upswing of 54% for respondents from a 2017 poll. The average cost per-endpoint breach increased to $9M in 2019, an increase of more than $2M since 2018.


    The “lost laptop” as a high-risk security endpoint

    While smaller devices such as cellular telephones and tablets may be used for viewing and very light work productivity, the focus now falls greatly on the most favored “office outside the office” – the business laptop.

    On the chance a business laptop is lost, it becomes an immediate and possibly highly expensive liability. While the physical loss of a laptop is a costly proposition, the sensitive business information stored in memory is of even greater value. What’s more, if the lost laptop’s network access is leveraged for business data theft, an even greater liability is at-hand.

    Software solutions

    With this in mind, IT administrators can secure business content and avoid risky network access via a compromised or lost laptop. Fortunately there are software-based solutions to the laptop/notebook loss problem. Many of these solutions are tailored for Windows OS-based laptops. Some software-based factors that help with avoiding unauthorized access and loss of information could be Windows policy implemented rules such as short laptop lockout times. Or if a laptop is left with its screen open with no keyboard activity, then the laptop would automatically lock itself. Some companies prefer more brute-force methods such as frequent on-site network authentication token renewal, enforced by a software solution that will lockout the laptop if the renewal is not performed on time.

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