Corporate espionage is a far more serious and wide spread problem than at any point in the past and with the huge storage potential of even the tiniest of media it is now vital that corporations lock down their data security with the right combination of policy, IT support and threat awareness. Both laptops and wi-fi are major points of attack which require IT policies that address these potential vulnerabilities before problems happen and fault analysis after problems to make sure any issues are correctly fixed and prevented from ever happening again.
There are a number of methods to improve laptop security, the most obvious of which is a robust password policy and to educate employees about what is a strong password and concepts of password use. This means having a minimum password length and complexity that is enforced, along with changing the passwords after a set period of time to limit the vulnerability window of any undiscovered loss of security information. Teaching workers not to reuse a password and not to use the same password for multiple tasks as this is often used to escalate the seriousness of an attack, gaining access to a peripheral system before moving into more insensitive core systems. Ensure that laptops have a strong BIOS password and that the security provided by the manufacturer is strong. As with mobile phones there are now more sophisticated technologies available for dealing with lost laptops such as GPS tracking and remote wipe.
Engrave or tag the laptop in a way that displays the company name and contact details so that any lost laptop has a far greater chance of being returned to your business if it is left on a train or at a conference for example.
Choose an operating system that provides data security and make sure it remains regularly patched to close vulnerabilities as soon as they are discovered. This can be greatly enhanced with the addition of full disk encryption which will make lost data far less of a liability as if it is properly protected it will not be possible to discover what the data says.
Wi-fi signals can often be picked up far away from where the network or laptop is placed, allowing people outside a company to snoop on transmissions and potentially intercept passwords and sensitive data if the network is not properly locked down. They can also connect to laptops with the wireless card turned on and gain access to the corporate network. Good wi-fi security requires an encrypted protocol be used along with passwords and preferably an allowed list of devices with assigned IPs to add an extra layer of security. Make sure the security is up to date as even some encrypted protocols have now fallen to decryption attacks based on the processing power of a graphics card repurposed for number crunching. Most companies ignore the risk of the wireless cards on laptops so it is also important to turn off wireless cards when they are not in use.
In an increasingly security conscious world this is becoming a vital part of any IT provision for large organisations, especially those with commercially sensitive data or databases of customer details which would be a major breach of trust to lose and result in extremely bad press for that company. Every aspect of the corporate IT infrastructure from desktops to servers to laptops and mobile phones
must be carefully considered for its security implications as more of these devices become ever more interconnected to make data as available as possible within the company to its employees.