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7 Ways to Travel Smart and Avoid Losing Your Laptop & Other Gadgets

Fall and winter marks a peak season for the airline and hospitality industry. Travelers are eager (or reluctant) to get to their destinations. Even in the midst of holiday travels you’ll often find practitioners still schlepping around their work computers (and other work-related gadgets like smartphones, tablets, flash drives and more). With the increase availability of mobile technology, we are becoming a culture that is work-addicted round-the-clock. This raises the important issue of how to protect your technology, especially during the frenetic hustle and bustle during holiday travel in order to avoid loss and theft.

The Ponemon Institute conducted a couple of prominent studies on the impact of lost or stolen laptops from businesses.  In 2009, it released a study sponsored by Dell Corporation on the causes and behaviors that put companies at risk.

Employees are most likely to lose a laptop computer during travel at such locations as hotels, airports, rental cars and at conference events.

In 2010, the Ponemon Institute followed up with a second survey, sponsored by Intel Corporation, on the costs of lost/stolen laptops to businesses. Of the 300 organizations who responded to the survey, more than 86,000 laptops were lost, costing business over $2.1 billion. Two-thirds of those organizations lacked basic security practices despite the fact that nearly half the laptops lost contained confidential information. The average cost was $49,246 per laptop. What can practitioners do to ensure they travel safely this season (and forever more) safeguard their technology? We have seven safe-travel tips for you:

1. Allow ample time when traveling. The stress of catching a flight, train or bus can leave us a bit flustered. By allowing enough time to gather your belongings and thoughts, you can better account for all your gadgets.

2. Keep your gadgets close. In air travel, tuck your laptop into your carry-on luggage rather than checking it. Keep an eye on your belongings through the security clearance line ensuring that you have visual contact even if moved to secondary inspection. Ask to have your belongings moved closer to you if necessary.

3. Keep your gadgets hidden. When not in use, put away your electronics where they will not be visible to the public. This is particularly true in hotel rooms and in your car (rental car).

4. Encrypt your data. While many may be familiar with screen passwords, encrypting select, highly confidential data will help to protect against the loss of that data even if the laptop is lost or stolen. There are various encryption methods and standards. It’s best to consult an IT professional for assistance.

5. Classify your data. Does every employee need access to all client files? Is there a way to limit access? By limiting and restricting access to client files (and company data), you limit potential exposure of that data to thieves and hackers when employees travel with their work-issued laptops. For many practitioners, adopting a smart immigration case management software (that is more robust than just a forms program) that operates in the cloud also helps to reduce exposure of client data due to technology loss or theft. Read more about this data security of this technology here.

6. ID your belongings. Affix tracker identification labels for all of your laptops and other gadgets so that if your gadgets are ever found, the finder will know who to contact to return the gadget.

7. Install anti-theft technology. The anti-theft technology can lock your computer remotely from being used. Other anti-theft software can help you remotely wipe out sensitive data in the event your computer or other gadgets are lost or stolen.

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Have you been the victim of a lost or stolen work laptop or other work gadget? How did you recover from that incident? Were you able to retrieve any of the lost data? We’d love to hear from you.  Please send us your comments.  We’d also like to wish our readers safe holiday travels this season.