Losing proprietary business data through the theft of laptops or other devices can be priceless, but when users are working in the office, IT may be lulled into a false sense of security that devices are safe on the premises.

Research suggests that IT theft in the office is higher than what most would expect. While it might seem to be a reasonable assumption that employees could leave their laptops and other devices unsecured in their own workspaces worry-free, the evidence shows that IT theft in the office is nearly as high as theft in cars and other forms of transportation.

And laptops are just one type of equipment in the corporate arsenal that needs protection - monitors, external hard drives, printers, hubs, docking stations, and conference room phones are all vulnerable to theft and data loss, while users lose productivity.

In July, Kensington a supplier of desktop and mobile device accessories (including laptop locks), surveyed 300 U.S. IT professionals from a range of industries for its IT Security & Laptop Theft report.

When Kensington asked respondents where company employees had experienced IT theft, the No. 1 response was 'cars and transportation' at 25 percent. But the No. 2 response, coming in ahead of 'airports and hotels' (15 percent) and 'restaurants' (12 percent), was the office (23 percent).

The survey also found:

  • 34 percent of organizations don't have a physical security policy in place for their laptops, mobile devices and other electronic assets.
  • 54 percent of respondents said they do not currently use physical locks for IT equipment.
  • 80 percent of respondents don't use locks on non-computing equipment like projectors, hard drives, monitors or speaker phones.

Kensington suggests that IT may be lulled into a false sense of security that devices are safe on premises because users are working in the office.

"With research showing that a surprisingly high percentage of IT theft occurs in-house, IT directors and purchasers need to implement a formal physical security policy and take steps to secure their devices and the sensitive data they contain," said Rob Humphrey, director of Global Product Management, Security, Kensington. "Since studies confirm that well-implemented security can significantly decrease laptop theft by as much as 85 percent, it's important for IT personnel to consistently utilize physical locks for computing and mobile equipment to provide resistance to tampering and theft. Simple and secure device-locking products can give organizations the added layer of protection they need to safeguard both their data and their mobile assets."