Computer TheftProtecting Data and Identity.

By: Richard N Williams

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

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

Some companies including banks and hospitals are nowensuring their computer hard drives are completely destroyed after use due tomany new Government mandates forcing the protection of people’s personal data.

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

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

Over just the lastthree years it is thought that 150 million personal records have been stolen,that is twice the entire population of Great Britain. Hospitals are amongst themost vulnerable of places where reception areas or administration buildings areoften left unattended. At the beginning of 2008, 88,000 people had to benotified when a hospital PC was stolen from Staten Island, New York along withall their personal details. In fact McAfee and Datamonitor’s DataLoss Survey, 2007 suggest adata 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, athird of companies surveyed also said a major security breach could put themout of business.

And Britain’sMetropolitan Police force is now issuing guidelines recommending that companies:“Anchor equipment to solid furniture, floors or nearby wall…and…store computerequipment within secure rooms/cabinets when buildings are unoccupied."

But it is not justbusinesses and public buildings that have to think of computer theft. Homeusers are increasingly using computers for Internet banking and financialtransactions, alongside the storing of personal files such as photographs.Whilst insurance will cover the cost of losing a computer and I’m sure you havebacked-up all your files (haven’t you?) but what about your bank accountdetails, conveniently stored on the machine for any crook to access.

Fortunately somecompanies have identified the problem and low cost PC safes have now beendeveloped that can house PCs securely whilst still allowing users to accessthem. These safes are tamper proof and can withstand even that most tenaciousof thieves. They can also be bolted to the floor or walls allowing computers tobe left unattended in public areas and also providing ideal security forbusiness and home users alikeArticle Search, protecting machines and more importantly thedata they hold.

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