DatasecurityAccording to recent research, 900-1000 laptops go missing every week at Heathrow ... that is 52,000 a year. Worldwide, 800,000 laptops are lost or stolen at airports every year.

Even more incredibly, the survey also reveals that many travellers fail to take any steps to protect the information contained on their laptops. Nearly 60 per cent of the British respondents admitted that they did not protect confidential information, while more than half said that they did not back up data.

I’m getting used to surveys quoting wild statistics, and have become partially immune to them. But in this research, the fact that made me sit up and pay attention was: ‘42 percent of British travellers said that their computer went missing after they asked another passenger to keep an eye on it’.

I really want to believe that the research is not accurate but I suspect it is an indication of how lax people can be with laptops - whether at airports, stations, motorway service areas (or classrooms?). It also reinforces the main challenge with achieving effective information security – people. Every public and commercial sector organisation now has security policies, procedures and technology in place but people do seem to persist in being either careless or too trusting when it comes to being vigilant when using laptops and network-enabled PDAs when travelling – and they are increasingly carrying data that you don’t want to lose.

Do you know what confidential data is on your university’s laptops? Do you know where they are going to be this summer, and are any of your staff planning to take them on their holidays? Perhaps it’s time to drop them a friendly note of advice before they leave the country!

A final reminder - we are running a free Microsoft Security Symposium for the Public Sector on September 16th in London. You can review the symposium programme here and register online ... and, if you do attend, we promise to make sure you do not leave your laptop behind...