The Lost Laptop Crisis

I wrote about the dangers of travel awhile back, where I had concerns about information when crossing the borders of a country. However that’s a case that most of us encounter rarely. However many of us do move information around on a regular basis with our devices, carrying them wherever we go. Each time we change locations, there’s a chance we’ll forget a device, or that one might be stolen from us.

There is a limited amount of information in our phones and tablets, but in many laptops, we can carry more information, and often do. No shortage of us keep database backups or imports/exports of data for development purposes. Our clients certainly have reports or data in Excel, but often that’s a limited amount of data compared to what some of us might keep on our machines. In thinking about this, I wanted to ask this question:

What would you do if you lost your laptop?

I’m talking about the main laptop that you use for work. What’s on it? What’s important? How would you react? Have you even thought about it?

I have, and I’ve had laptops die, though never stolen. However I have taken some precautions. When I get a new laptop, the first thing I do is enable the whole disk encryption in Windows or OSX. I keep backups of the recovery codes at home and I make sure I’ve taken advantage of strong passwords and other encryption for information I carry. I don’t have passwords saved for any VPN or other secure connections to banks or work.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start. Let me know today if you take other precautions.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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3 Responses to The Lost Laptop Crisis

  1. Kevin3NF says:

    Fortunately, my client has very strong encryption on every box they build 🙂

    My personal laptop, has nothing, but also has only random junk data in it…


  2. DMason says:

    For SQL-related tasks, I use a VPN to connect to a VM that’s on another domain. My laptop doesn’t have that much on it other than Outlook and other MS Office apps.


  3. Pat Phelan says:

    My company OutLook local message store is on my laptop, but the drive itself is encrypted so I don’t worry much about that… All client data is stored on “jump boxes” within their domains. There are a couple of IP Addresses that are coded into the configuration files used by clients (so I can’t readily hide or change those), but no user or password gets stored on my machine…

    I guess that I’m not too worried about it, although I’m fanatic about never storing client data on my laptop so that does influence my opinion.

    I’m actually more concerned about what could be gleaned from my Google Search history, since that would give snippets of insight into what kinds of problems clients have had, but that history isn’t directly stored on my laptop.


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