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Sunday, April 14, 2024

You Won’t Believe What Hackers Can Do with Your Old Work Laptop!

Hey there, fellow IT asset managers and anyone else tasked with the joy of retrieving laptops from remote employees! Let me tell you, it’s a wild ride trying to keep your company’s data safe during this process. Trust me, I’ve seen my fair share of close calls and learned the hard way just how important it is to have a solid plan in place, especially when it comes to laptop returns and device returns.

The Risks of Unreturned Laptops

Picture this: you’ve got a remote employee who’s just left the company, and their laptop is still out there in the wild. It’s like a ticking time bomb of sensitive data waiting to fall into the wrong hands. I once had a case where an ex-employee sold their company laptop on eBay without even wiping the data. Talk about a heart attack moment!

Sensitive Company Data at Risk

When laptops aren’t properly retrieved and secured, it’s not just a matter of losing a piece of hardware. It’s the company’s confidential information, customer data, and even trade secrets that are at stake. Hackers are always on the lookout for easy targets, and an unsecured old work laptop is like hitting the jackpot for them.

Laptops Being Sold or Discarded Improperly

One of the scariest things I’ve encountered is when a returned laptop ends up in the wrong place. Whether it’s sold online, donated, or simply thrown away without proper data wiping, it’s a massive security risk. I once stumbled upon a forum where hackers were sharing tips on how to acquire old corporate laptops just to mine them for valuable data. It was a real eye-opener!

Data Security Tips for Laptop Retrieval

So, how do we combat these risks and keep the company’s data safe during the laptop retrieval process? Here are some key tips I’ve learned over the years:

Develop a Comprehensive Laptop Retrieval Policy

First and foremost, you need a solid plan in place. Create a detailed laptop retrieval policy that outlines the entire process from start to finish. This should include timelines, communication protocols, and consequences for non-compliance. Trust me, having a clear policy in place will save you countless headaches down the road.

Invest in Proper Packaging for Laptop Returns

When it comes to laptop returns, packaging is key. Invest in high-quality laptop shipping boxes to ensure devices arrive safely and securely. Consider factors like box size, padding, and durability. I once had a laptop arrive damaged because it was shipped in a flimsy box with little to no padding. Learn from my mistake and choose a reliable laptop box for shipping.

Implement Data Encryption and Remote Deletion

One of the best ways to protect sensitive data is through encryption. Make sure all company laptops have encryption software installed and enabled. This way, even if a laptop does end up in the wrong hands, the data will be much harder to access. Additionally, invest in remote deletion software that allows you to wipe data from a laptop remotely if it’s not returned promptly.

Shipping Laptops Securely

When it comes to device returns, shipping is a critical component. Here are some tips for ensuring your laptops arrive safely and securely:

Choose the Right Shipping Carrier or Laptop Retrieval Company

Select a reputable shipping carrier like UPS or FedEx for your laptop returns if you still want to do it yourself. I rather use a company called Retriever. They offer specialized services for shipping laptops. I once had a laptop go missing during transit, but because we used Retriever with tracking on its easy-to-use portal, we were able to locate it quickly.

Use Appropriate Laptop Shipping Boxes

Using the right laptop shipping box is essential. Look for boxes specifically designed for laptops, with features like anti-static padding and secure closures. Check out the dimensions of the padded laptop box that Retriever uses for its laptop retrieval service:

  • Minimum supported device dimensions: 11” x 7” x 0.5”
  • Maximum supported device dimensions: 15.125” x 10.25” x 1”
  • Accessories tray dimensions: 15.75” x 3.5” x 1.5”

Don’t try to cut corners by using a generic box – trust me, it’s not worth the risk! 

Consider the Cost of Laptop Shipping Boxes

While it may be tempting to choose the cheapest option for laptop shipping boxes, remember that quality matters. Investing in a sturdy, reliable laptop shipping box can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Plus, many carriers offer discounts for bulk orders, so be sure to shop around for the best deals. If you want to stay away from buying boxes, having inventory, and wasting hours of unproductive time making labels, I recommend using a laptop retrieval service.

We of course recommend Retriever, as their service includes the laptop shipping box with foam to protect the laptop.

Employee Responsibilities in Laptop Retrieval

While IT asset managers play a pivotal role in the retrieval process, employees also have a part to play in protecting company data.

Educating Employees on Their Role

Make sure your employees understand their responsibilities when it comes to returning laptops. This includes backing up necessary data, removing personal files, and following the retrieval timeline. I’ve found that hosting regular training sessions and providing clear instructions goes a long way in getting everyone on the same page.

Implementing Consequences for Non-Compliance

Unfortunately, there may be times when an employee fails to comply with the retrieval policy. It’s important to have clear consequences in place to discourage such behavior. This could range from disciplinary action to withholding final paychecks until the laptop is returned. Be sure to work with HR to develop a fair and consistent approach.

The Importance of Data Backup Strategies

One of the best ways to protect your company’s data is by having a robust backup strategy in place. This is especially important during the laptop retrieval process, as it ensures that critical data isn’t lost if a device goes missing or is compromised.

Regularly Backing Up Employee Laptops

Implement a system for regularly backing up data from employee laptops, whether it’s through automated cloud backups or manual transfers. This way, even if a laptop isn’t returned or is damaged, you’ll still have access to the important data.

Testing Data Backup Systems

It’s not enough to simply have a backup system in place; you need to test it regularly to ensure it’s working as intended. I learned this the hard way when we needed to restore data from a backup only to find out it was corrupted. Now, we conduct regular tests and maintain multiple backup copies to avoid any surprises.

Wrapping Up

Retrieving laptops from remote employees may seem like a daunting task, but with the right strategies and precautions in place, you can keep your company’s data safe and secure. By developing a comprehensive retrieval policy, educating employees, and either investing in proper laptop shipping boxes with a carrier or using a laptop return service like Retriever, you’ll be well on your way to mitigating the risks of unreturned laptops.

Remember, it only takes one unsecured device to put your entire organization at risk. So, take action now and prioritize data security throughout the laptop returns and device returns process. Your future self (and your company’s sensitive data) will thank you!

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