What We Learned from Our Recent Laptop Theft – 5 Security Tips for Businesses

Late last month we had two Macbook Air laptops stolen out of our Houston office. There were several things we learned from the experience. We’ve outlined a few specifics below that we think could help other companies or organizations avoid a similar situation. Some of these we had in place prior to the theft, and some we learned the hard way.

First: Thank You for Sharing!

First I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone in the community who shared our story.

We posted a photo of building security footage of the suspect on our website and about 200 people shared the information on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.

We got some good tips from the community that we’ve shared with the police. Another business owner had a similar issue with a suspect fitting the same description – we’ve turned that information over to the police and hope they are able to take some action with it.

The Good News: No Data Loss

The good news is that no one was hurt and the Macbooks were brand new so there was no client data on them at all.

Why it Matters: We Want to Do Better

We take security seriously – in the Schipul office we use automatic locks, security cameras, key cards, and train our people to be vigilant. This was a failure on multiple levels and we recognize how lucky we are to just be out a few laptops. We were not happy that the incident happened not only because of the loss of equipment, but also because we want to do better to protect our people and our clients.

5 Security Tips for Businesses

Security Tips - Talk to Strangers!#1. Talk to Strangers!

This goes against what you were taught as a small child. Train your employees that if they see an unescorted stranger – say something to them. You don’t have to come across as rude; politely say hello and offer to help them find what they are looking for.

Don’t ignore people who look like they shouldn’t be there – acknowledge them. If they are considering causing trouble, this is often enough to make them think twice.

#2. Look for Security Holes

If you were looking to steal from the company, how would you do it?

Think about doors that are unlocked or out of sight, times of day that are easier targets, new guys who don’t know the protocol, etc. In our case, the laptops were stolen when the front desk was unoccupied during lunch – this is something we could have avoided.

Be vigilant about locking doors and computers. Make it a habit to secure rooms with valuable equipment – post a sign as a reminder on the door or make it one person’s responsibility to double check.

#3. Keep Inventory, Password Protect

Keep inventory of your equipment, including serial numbers and who it is checked out to. Password protect immediately – and make sure your default password is complex. If a default password is easy to remember like “changeme,” chances are the person won’t change it. If you need ideas for passwords – Random.org has a great random password generator.

Our laptops had already been set up with passwords and registered – so we were able to report the serial numbers to Apple to help us track them down.

#4. Know Who to Call

Many small businesses have offices in a building shared by other companies. Know your property management and security guards – including their phone number. Educate every employee on what to do if something happens.

Often security footage deletes after a few days, so be sure you know how to see and save the footage as quickly as you can.

#5. Build Your Social Network Before You Need It

We are extremely thankful to everyone who shared our photos to help us get to the bottom of our theft.

Build your online network by connecting with them online & provide interesting content to keep them coming back. In the event that you need your network to help you spread a message like we did, you have a built in base of people who can help!

But be ready for more surprises.

While most feedback we got was supportive, we were surprised by some negative comments that alleged that we were profiling our suspect based on his race.  Our intention by posting the photos of the suspect was simply to identify him so the police can get to the bottom of the issue, and even though we make a living encouraging companies and nonprofits to take an open stance and embrace criticism online, we found ourselves getting defensive.  A special thanks to the members of the community who responded to the negative comments on our behalf. The negative comments were a reminder that the social media conversation doesn’t always go the way you expect it to, and you need to be able to respond quickly and openly to whatever unexpected direction the conversation takes.

Thank You Again!

Thank you again to everyone for your support. We continue to work to keep security our #1 priority to protect our employees and clients.

If you do recognize this suspect (photo here), please notify the City of Houston police at (713) 884-3131 with case #081613612.

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Comments on What We Learned from Our Recent Laptop Theft – 5 Security Tips for Businesses

  1. 1

    From dankeeney:

    These are great tips for any business to follow. It’s almost like every employee should be a bit of a neighborhood watch captain – keeping an eye out for things that seem unusual.

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