Dell Offers Recourse to Owners of Lost Laptops

By Andy Patrizio

July 10, 2008

More than 12,000 laptops are lost every week in U.S. airports. Dell's Data Protection Service can ease the damage that comes with lost data and possibly even locate the culprit.

The problem with laptops seeming to grow legs and walk away from their owners dominates the minds of IT administrators and the public alike. After all, maybe your personal data was sitting on that laptop that was stolen, lost or otherwise misplaced, which could mean major disruption of your life or even identity theft.

After a hair-raising study with the Poneman Institute found just how bad laptop loss in airports alone can be, Dell announced new data protection services designed to help catch lost laptops and eras the data.

Dell is expanding its ProSupport service to include Asset Protection Services and Data Protection Services for laptop users, giving them a single point of contact. A Dell customer can look to the company for service, support, and data protection/loss prevention, said Suzanne Atkinson, services architect in Dell Global Services.

"The trend toward mobility is increasing," she told InternetNews.com. "Companies are looking at mobility as a way to increase productivity. So we wanted to help companies realize those benefits, but at the same time realize the risk associated with mobility."

Under the Asset Protection Services, there will be laptop tracking and recovery, so once the lost laptop connects to the Internet, Dell immediately tracks its IP address and tries to find the user. Also included is a repair or replacement plan for accidentally damaged systems and an additional replacement battery during the system's limited warranty period, up to three years.

Dell's latest service is aimed at easing some of the problems that the Poneman Institute found in its survey of lost laptops. Take the airport examples.

Poneman checked with 106 Class B– the largest ones, like JFK in New York, LAX in Los Angeles and SFO in San Francisco – and Class C airports – midmarkets, like San Jose, Austin, Texas or Providence, RI – in 46 states. It then spoke with 864 regular business travelers.

What it found was unnerving even to Larry Poneman, founder and CEO of the company. More than 12,000 laptops are lost every week, the bulk of them in the Class B airports. Class B airports only made up 36 of the 106 airports in the survey but saw 10,278 of the 12,255 lost laptops.

The survey found 1,200 alone were lost every week in Los Angeles International Airport, 1,000 a week lost in Miami International and 900 in Kennedy. Among Class C, it's probably no surprise that San Jose's Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport had the highest number of lost laptops at 211 per week. Mineta is much closer to the Silicon Valley than SFO to the north.

Of that number, 637,000 lost laptops every year, only 33 percent are claimed. The other two-thirds are never seen again, either getting disposed of or perhaps going home with an airport employee. Maybe that's why laptop sales are booming – the replacement rate is so high.

"It's the number not reclaimed that is heart-pounding," Poneman told InternetNews.com. "I think part of the issue is many airports don't have a centralized lost and found. It would be hard to pin down a lost laptop. The second reason is people are fatalistic. They feel it's lost, and won't be easy to recover."

Those lost laptops don't just contain Word and PowerPoint documents, either. Poneman found 53 of those surveyed said their laptop contains confidential work information, "and it's probably worse due to the halo effect of people not wanting to admit their guilt," he added. Of that number, 85 percent don't take steps to protect the data.

Under Dell's Data Protection Services, the company is offering to delete data on a lost laptop, so as soon as it hits the Internet, a signal is sent to erase the valuable data. In addition, Dell will offer clean-room data recovery on crashed hard drives and proper disposal of drives with sensitive data.

That remote delete is really what IT wants, said Roger Kay, president of the research firm Endpoint Technologies. "Dell rightfully thinks people are more concerned about the data than the computer," he said. "It's really not so much about asset recovery as it is about asset protection. They try to recover the box but the most important thing to do is protect the data on it. So when it connects to the Internet and it gets a signal that says you are now a brick, that's important to IT."

Information on the program can be found at Dell's Get Protected and Connected site.

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.

Originally published on .

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