Recently, we received an invitation to the presentation of a new [allegedly, Ed.] independent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute LLC [e.g. a limited liability company, not an institution] - on notebook security. This "independent" study was commissioned by Intel Corporation to analyze the potential business costs of stolen or lost notebooks.
According to the research, Ponemon Institute calculated that notebooks lost or stolen in airports, taxis and hotels around the world cost their corporate owners an average of $49,246, reflecting the value of the enclosed data above the cost of the PC. Now, $50K for a notebook sounds a bit excessive, but the reality is that the lost data, in case there was no backup - is invaluable.
The study reveals that sensitive data inside the notebook, not the notebook itself - is the primary factor driving costs upward. It also shows that how quickly a company learns of the missing notebook plays heavily in the eventual cost. The average cost if the notebook is discovered missing the same day is $8,950 and after more than one week, this figure can reach as high as $115,849.
Owner of a missing notebook also plays an important role in the cost. Surprisingly, it is not the CEO's computer that is the most valued, but a director/manager of a business unit. A senior executive's notebook is valued at $28,449, while a director/manager's notebook is worth $60,781 and $61,040, respectively. The study also suggests that use of good security products and technologies for encrypting data reduces the financial consequences.
The real purpose of this study was to pitch Intel’s Anti-Theft Technology. This package is a "poison pill" solution programmed into the PC that can be triggered by internal detection mechanisms or by a remote server to lock a lost or stolen notebook, rendering it completely useless. The technology can respond, for example, to repeated login failures or expiration of a timer that requires a notebook to periodically connect to a central server. This is pretty much the same level of service that Research in Motion offers to the users - if a BlackBerry is stolen, you provider can kill the phone, rendering it useless. If your police department is really worried about the content of the BlackBerry, they can even triangulate the phone - it doesn't matter do you remove the SIM or not, IMEI is always the same. When it comes to Intel's Anti-Theft Technology, the chip giant from Santa Clara claims that the number of PC manufacturers offering this technology is increasing and that Anti-Theft Technology is frequently offered through companies that provide data-encryption or -deletion services.
The only question that rings in our heads is why Intel pulled a typical elementary-school PR antics with claims of "independent study" when this was nothing else but a product pitch? A little bit of honesty would do them much better good, since you actually cannot put a value on the data you lose. If somebody steals the camera with your holiday pictures, does that mean the cost of data is the plane ticket, hotel and all of those expenses divided by the number of pictures?
Intel's score: Good try, but seriously - no Brownies* for you.