You are in San Francisco for a work trip when you realized the conference you have to attend is a 3-hour drive away. Armed with your work bag in one hand and a Starbucks in the other, you approach the car rental counter to rent a car for the day. You place your work bag on the ground next to your feet as you try to negotiate the car rental prices. Out of the corner of your eye, you suddenly notice a man approach the counter next to you. A few minutes later, he briskly walks away. You don’t think much about it. The staff now asks for your passport. You bend down to grab your work bag only to find it missing. Did that man take my work bag?
One minute it was there, and the next minute… GONE.
Now, normally, if your bag is stolen, you will get frustrated, but you can do damage control. You can cancel your credit cards and get a new driver’s license. But this time was different. Not only was your wallet inside, but also your company’s laptop!
When your personal laptop gets stolen, it’s maddening but still ok. However, if your company laptop gets stolen, that’s another ballgame altogether – its time to leap into action!
That company laptop probably contained so much confidential data that in fact, the thief didn’t just steal your bag, they stole your job too! And this becomes a loophole in your company’s security!
So what do you do if your company laptop gets stolen?
Here are 6 steps you can act on IMMEDIATELY:
1. Call your IT Department or IT Service Provider
Most people get it all wrong – they think the first thing to do is to call the police. However, the first thing anyone should do if your company laptop is stolen or lost is to call their IT Department or IT Service Provider as soon as possible!
This is so that they can take care of any issues on their end, such as encrypting or wiping the data from your hard drive, using a tracking software that has been installed, and notifying the manufacturer and stolen-computer databases.
And while you’re on the phone, get the computer’s serial number too — you’ll need that when you file a police report.
2. File a Police Report
The next thing to do is then to file a police report. Call the local police or head down to the nearest police station and give them the serial number of your company’s laptop. Make sure to get a case number for the insurance company.
3. Change your passwords
Next, change your passwords. Start by changing your corporate network server password, then move to highly confidential and sensitive accounts, such as your bank account and credit cards. Then move to your email, shopping website accounts, social media accounts.
By looking at your emails and browsing history, criminals can discover a lot about you — where you work, what bank you go to bank, or even where you live.
But most importantly, they can uncover your passwords! Don’t take chances. Now is also a good time to start using a password manager, if you haven’t already done so.
4. Freeze your credit card
If you use your company’s laptop for financial transactions, freeze your credit cards!
Locking down your credit will prevent companies from running credit checks on you, thereby thwarting attempts by the thief to open bogus accounts in your name to make fraudulent transactions. Financial transactions include personal banking, tax filings, credit card accounts and transactions, and other activities where you entered account numbers or login information.
Contact your credit monitoring services to place a fraud alert on your account.
Don’t worry — credit freezes do NOT affect your credit score and are good to have because they help protect you from the constant fallout of major data breaches.
5. Notify customers
If any sensitive or identifying customer information was housed on the stolen laptop, then you need to take the painstaking steps to notify your customers. Of course, this is an area that needs to be treaded with carefully. You don’t want to chase your customers away!
Send an email letting people know that they should be on the lookout for emails from you that don’t seem legitimate. Even emails that seem legitimate might not be. Phishing has become a wildly pervasive form of cybercrime.
But before you do anything, discuss this with your IT Department and Company Managers on what’s the best move forward.
6. Recover your data on your new (or temporary) laptop
Hopefully, your laptop backs up automatically or you’ve synchronized it with the company server recently so you haven’t lost much work. Your IT department or IT service provider can help you with (or handle) this process.
So whether it was stolen from your car, disappeared in the airport security line, or was physically wrenched from your hands in a grab-and-run, these 6 steps apply.
But how do you prevent this?
Knowing what to do after your laptop is stolen is important to know, but knowing what to do before your laptop is stolen is even more critical!
Prevention is key!
Of course from an end-user point-of-view, following the above steps is sufficient.
However, from your company’s point-of-view, your company should minimally implement the following tools to ensure that your company’s data is stored safely away:
Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions
In this day and age, working on the go is becoming more popular. Thus, the smartphone has become an important working tool. As such, many business applications are now loaded on smartphones and issued to staff.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions is basically a solution that allows for the administration of mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablet computers and laptops. MDM allows companies to remotely erase company data when the device is lost.
Cloud Computing is an on-demand computing model which relies on a stable Internet connection to share and access data across multiple devices such as computers or smartphones. It allows users to access all the information stored in a third-party data center, by using minimal resources and minimal supervision.
Storing your data on the Cloud is thus useful. In the event your company laptop goes missing, administrators can easily cut off any access to the data on a particular device.
Moreover, you’ll always have a backup solution in case something goes wrong! If your company laptop gets stolen, you can always access the cloud and retrieve any data that may have been damaged or lost.