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22 July 2004

Secure Laptop Computing When Life’s a Beach

Consultancy gives top security tips as more executives pack their laptops along with the suncream and beach gear for their holidays

Executives taking their portable computers on holiday this summer should ‘look before they lap’ to avoid company security breaches, according to specialist consultancy Network Defence.

The company says that with a handful of simple security precautions, laptop users and companies can ensure that their networks are not compromised by the loss or theft of portable computers that are taken on holiday.

The portable computer is fast becoming a holiday essential, with more than 20% of executives taking theirs with
them when they holiday abroad according to a recent UK survey by the British Computer Society. The survey also revealed that nearly half of these used it for at least 14 hours on the average two-week holiday.

Network Defence director Sue Beesley commented: “Taking a laptop on holiday can give peace of mind to busy execs, but also brings two real security headaches for companies. First there’s the risk of theft or loss, which can give unauthorised people access to sensitive company data. Second, the risk of linking to company systems over an non-secure connection, which could allow confidential data to be intercepted.

“Perhaps the best protection is not to take a laptop at all, but for companies to deploy a clientless VPN solution
which gives key staff secure access to email and key internal systems from hotel Internet services or web cafes. If this can't be implemented in time for holidays, companies should deploy authentication solutions to make sure that only authorised personnel can use the portable PC, and use data encryption so that if a laptop is stolen, any data stored on it is unreadable.”

Network Defence has complied five essential security tips for taking portable computers on holiday:

1) Keep your laptop with you when travelling. Never check your laptop in as hold luggage.

2) Use it discreetly in public places: laptops compete with mobile phones as theft magnets. Don’t use the distinctive square bag your laptop came in, instead use a more anonymous carrier.

3) Ensure your laptop has adequate user authentication to prevent other people from accessing your information.
Password protection is a minimum; you should also consider token-based authentication.

4) Never store any sensitive details such as passport number and bank details on your computer - unless they are encrypted.

5) Do you really need to take your laptop at all? A clientless VPN solution will let you leave it at home and use any web connected PC for secure access to office systems. But if you must take it, make sure your data is protected by encryption.

Issued on behalf of Network Defence, contact Julie Kettle 01925 272000 /
Press contact: Craig Coward, 01625 511966 /

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