Laptops, tablets, iPhones, and other portable devices present particular security and insurance concerns for IT small businesses. Their portability means they are susceptible to more risks, including…
- Cyber attacks via unsecured Wi-Fi.
- Physical theft and data breaches.
IT contractors can mitigate these risks by purchasing insurance for laptops and taking steps to reduce their cyber liability. To understand how computer insurance protects your business, let's take a closer look at the security risks associated with laptops and other portable devices.
Invisible Threats: Wi-Fi attacks
Joining unsecured Wi-Fi exposes laptops to all sorts of cyber threats. Here are a few recent examples from the news:
- Recently, the FBI warned consumers about malware on unsecured Wi-Fi (including wireless networks at hotels, cafes, and other public places). New malware circulating on Wi-Fi networks may prompt users to update their software. By clicking "yes," users were actually downloading malicious software onto their devices.
- The New York Times published an article showing how anyone could download a program to track what other users were doing on unsecured Wi-Fi networks. By sitting at the same cafe, hackers could literally see on other users’ computer screens, meaning they could easily steal passwords and login information to any site you accessed.
These are just two examples of the threats of using public Wi-Fi – more are announced all the time as hackers come up with new attacks and software companies scramble to patch their security.
Employers can have a hard time regulating employee use of laptops. They can forbid employees from going to a coffee shop and using its network, but such regulations are hard to enforce. Employees who travel regularly may have no choice but to use hotel or airport Wi-Fi to do their job – and few employers in today’s breakneck economy prefer deferred productivity to assured security.
Installing strong antivirus software, accessing secure data through VPNs, and encrypting your private data are all good ways to prevent cyber attacks on mobile devices.
Laptop Liabilities: Theft and Data Loss
A stolen laptop is problematic for two reasons: first, it's costly to replace, and second, the thief or thieves may have access to private data stored on the laptop.
In April, criminals stole a laptop from a government contractor that had private data (including Social Security Numbers) for more that 200,000 Army reservists. In response to this massive data breach, the military contractor responsible is likely spending thousands of dollars on credit monitoring for families affected by the attack. If the stolen laptop leads to any identity theft, the government contractor could end up in a costly lawsuit.
There are numerous ways to secure your business laptop and its data. Many tech professionals use laptop locks to secure computers to desks. Apple and other computer companies may allow you to remotely "lock" a stolen device (preventing thieves from using it) and wipe your data.
In addition, there are a variety of third-party software programs that can track your computer and even take pictures of whoever is using it after it is stolen. Macworld put together a comprehensive list of the techniques you can use to secure your MacBook.
What Computer Insurance Covers Laptops?
Cyber Liability Insurance protects IT contractors from lawsuits over data breaches. Whether a laptop is stolen and criminals gain access to your files or it is hacked over unsecured Wi-Fi, computer insurance can pay for credit monitoring and the cost of informing customers about the breach.
To cover the cost of replacing stolen laptops, many businesses purchase Property Insurance, which covers theft, fire damage, and other scenarios.
For a small IT businesses, insurance is vital for protecting data and property, making sure one stolen laptop doesn't lead to a major lawsuit.