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Most company laptops still not encrypted

Consumerisation of IT making things worse

Deep into the age of data loss anxiety, most business laptops are still not secured using technologies such as encryption, a small but perhaps telling survey has revealed.

According to Check Point's questioning of 130 UK IT managers, only 40 percent said that their laptops used encryption, which contrasts strikingly with the 68 percent who had access to a business VPN.

Compounding this is the growing influence of consumer device in organisations, with a surprising number permitting their use without applying security policies. More than half allow personal smartphones and laptops to be used for work business, 40 of which have no formal security policy for such hardware.

Check Point's motivation for pointing all this out is to push its own solution, the Abra virtualised desktop, which fits onto a USB stick and can be carried around in some cases as a full replacement for a laptop. Co-developed with SanDisk, it features a secure browser and other applications, allowing mobile workers in theory to plug into and use even insecure Internet cafe PCs without fear of compromise.

"The use of encryption on corporate laptops has not grown, with less than 50 percent having data encryption deployed," said Check Point's European sales head, Nick Lowe. "The HMRC data breach of three years ago stressed the need for data encryption, but a majority of businesses have not yet learnt the lesson."

Around 10 percent of respondents mentioned that their company allows staff to claim allowances to buy their own IT equipment, which chops capital expenditure at the expense of causing even more problems in terms of security and support.

It is possible to read the survey results from such a small sample as mildly encouraging - that as many as 40 percent of laptops feature encryption still counts as a boost compared to the recent past.

Encryption is a complex, entangling technology that was always going to be slow to become a standard part of the business environment. Making this situation worse is the fact that the number of devices requiring encryption - memory sticks and smartphones for instance - appears to be increasing faster than the technology can become established.

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