1 lost laptop = $50,000 worth of expenses

Ponemon Institute study reveals massive costs related to misplaced or stolen laptops

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By  Vineetha Menon Published  April 27, 2009

Losing a laptop costs a firm on average nearly $50,000 after accounting for data loss, intellectual property, replacement, lost work time and legal expenses, a study by Ponemon Institute has revealed.

The study, which was supported by Intel, analysed 138 cases in which firms in the United States experienced laptop loss or theft in the last twelve months, finding that a burgeoning mobile workforce has raised the stakes in information security today.

"An increasingly mobile workforce is putting corporations' sensitive and confidential information at great risk," researchers said in the study. "It is the Information Age and employees are carrying more information on their laptops than ever before."

The average cost of a lost laptop for a senior executive was pegged at close to $28,500, while misplaced devices of managers or directors cost firms about $61,000 in average.

In an interesting finding, laptops that had copies of files stored in backup systems proved to cost firms on average approximately $70,000 dollars while missing machines without backup cost companies $39,250.

"One plausible reason for this is that the backup makes it easier to confirm the loss of sensitive or confidential data," Ponemon researchers wrote. "In other words, it could be the ignorance-is-bliss hypothesis."

Ponemon found that the most common areas where laptops go missing include hotels, airports, pubs, taxis, rental cars and conference centres.

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