Computer Theft - Protecting Data and Identity


Everybody is now aware of the growing problem of identity theft; it is a huge global problem. All personal information is incredibly valuable to criminals who can use it to open bank accounts, get credit cards, loans, state benefits and documents such as passports and driving licences.

Whether at home or at work, people are now fully aware that the personal information they hold, from financial statements to health records, needs to be protected and we invest in shredders to destroy our paperwork and make sure our online activities are secured by firewalls and anti-virus software.

Some companies including banks and hospitals are now ensuring their computer hard drives are completely destroyed after use due to many new Government mandates forcing the protection of people's personal data.

However, all these measures are futile if the PC itself gets stolen; along with the hard drive and all your personal files and those of your customers. Yet it is estimated that a million PCs and laptops are stolen globally each year exposing personal details of hundreds of thousands of people.

Having a computer stolen also has a cost, not just the money you spent on buying it or the money to replace it. There is the inconvenience to you, your staff, your company, the loss of records and the possible loss of business.

Over just the last three years it is thought that 150 million personal records have been stolen, that is twice the entire population of Great Britain. Hospitals are amongst the most vulnerable of places where reception areas or administration buildings are often left unattended. At the beginning of 2008, 88,000 people had to be notified when a hospital PC was stolen from Staten Island, New York along with all their personal details. In fact McAfee and Datamonitor's Data Loss Survey, 2007 suggest a data breach that exposes personal information on average costs companies $268,000 (£136,000) to inform their customers, even if that lost data is never used, a third of companies surveyed also said a major security breach could put them out of business.

And Britain's Metropolitan Police force is now issuing guidelines recommending that companies: "Anchor equipment to solid furniture, floors or nearby wall...and...store computer equipment within secure rooms/cabinets when buildings are unoccupied."

But it is not just businesses and public buildings that have to think of computer theft. Home users are increasingly using computers for Internet banking and financial transactions, alongside the storing of personal files such as photographs. Whilst insurance will cover the cost of losing a computer and I'm sure you have backed-up all your files (haven't you?) but what about your bank account details, conveniently stored on the machine for any crook to access.

Fortunately some companies have identified the problem and low cost PC safes have now been developed that can house PCs securely whilst still allowing users to access them. These safes are tamper proof and can withstand even that most tenacious of thieves. They can also be bolted to the floor or walls allowing computers to be left unattended in public areas and also providing ideal security for business and home users alike, protecting machines and more importantly the data they hold.

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