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Lost laptop valued as much as a Mercedes-Benz

New study uncovers surprising financial repercussions of lost and stolen notebooks

Lost or stolen notebooks in airports, taxis and hotels cost business owners an average of $49,246, which is close in price to the 2009 C350 4MATIC Sedan from Mercedes-Benz, according to a recent study by Ponemon Institute, commissioned by Intel Corp..

Intel believes this analyzes the potential business costs of stolen or lost notebook computers, suggesting that in an era where the office can be almost anywhere, good security precautions are essential.

The study calculated the value of the enclosed data above the cost of the PC.

“For a rapidly growing number of workers, desktop computers have given way to notebooks, rewarding users with the increased productivity and freedom that mobility affords,” said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager, Mobile Platforms Group. “As this trend continues, the study suggests that companies need to be increasingly vigilant that their security systems are up for the job.

Eden suggested that customers collaboration with solution providers for encryption and data-deletion solution using Intel Anti-Theft Technology.

Intel Anti-Theft Technology is a “poison pill” solution programmed into the PC that can be triggered by internal detection mechanisms or by a remote server to lock a lost or stolen notebook, rendering it completely useless. The technology can respond, for example, to repeated login failures or expiration of a timer that requires a notebook to periodically connect to a central server.

The study also revealed that sensitive data, not the notebook itself, is the primary factor driving costs upward. The study also suggests that use of products and technologies for encrypting data reduces the financial consequences.

Analyzing 138 instances of lost and stolen notebooks, the study based the $49,246 price tag on costs associated with replacement, detection, forensics, data breach, lost intellectual property, lost productivity, and legal, consulting and regulatory expenses.

Data breach alone represents 80 per cent of the cost.

“This is the first study to benchmark the full cost of a lost or stolen notebook,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “Some of the results are startling to say the least, pointing to the sizable consequences associated with the loss of notebooks and, more importantly, the data inside them that companies must consider.”

The study also shows that how quickly a company learns of the missing notebook plays heavily in the eventual cost. The average cost if the notebook is discovered missing the same day is $8,950, according to the study. After more than one week, this figure can reach as high as $115,849.

Who owns a missing notebook also plays an important role in the cost. Surprisingly, it is not the CEO’s computer that is the most valued, but a director or manager. A senior executive’s notebook is valued at $28,449, while a director or manager’s notebook is worth $60,781 and $61,040, respectively.

The study found that data encryption makes the most significant difference in the average cost: A lost notebook with an encrypted hard-disk drive is valued at $37,443, compared with $56,165 for a non-encrypted version.