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Low-tech ways to protect your business

You can’t hack a cable-lock

March 2015

Pop quiz: what’s a simple thing you can do to improve your business’ IT security? Update your antivirus software? Use secure passwords? Here’s one that many small- and medium-sized businesses rarely think about: enhance your physical security.
While often an afterthought, physical IT security is no small matter. Of the over $48 billion lost yearly in the U.S. as a result of data breaches, 28 percent resulted from stolen laptops or other portable devices [1]. In all, 60 percent of business failures can be attributed to internal theft [2].
But protecting your IT investments from theft or damage doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, many measures are relatively inexpensive and easy to set up. To help you get started, here are six of the most effective—and simple—physical security measures you should consider.

1. Lock up the server room
The server is the heart of network and data security, and unauthorized access to it can mean unfettered access to every other piece of hardware and data in your company. Limit server room access to employees who specifically need it. This should help protect you from both malicious behavior and potential accidents.

2. Protect mobile devices
Mobile devices are particularly vulnerable to loss and theft, with 7 percent of all employee notebook PCs lost or stolen before the end of their useful lifespan. And the average total negative economic impact of a stolen notebook—from compromised data and efforts to retroactively minimize the damage—is an estimated $49,256. Help keep these devices safe with simple measures like the HP Ultraslim Keyed Cable Lock for notebooks, and HP ElitePad Security Jacket for tablets.

3. Don’t forget the workstations
While notebooks and tablets are often the first target for thefts, unmonitored workstations are frequent targets for unauthorized access. To help minimize vulnerability, disconnect computers that aren’t being used and require authentication on all publicly accessible computers, such as the one at your reception desk. Also, consider locking the cases of vulnerable machines with devices like the HP Business PC Security Lock Kit to ensure a thief can’t remove any components, like a hard drive.

4. Lock up the backups
While smart businesses understand the importance of backups, they’re often less aware of where those backups are located. Securing your backups is an easy oversight—especially if they’re located next to your unsecured servers. If possible, use secure off-site backups to help protect your data from natural disasters and theft. But in a pinch, even a locked drawer is better than leaving backups out in the open.

5. Disable the drives
Just as restricting access to particular machines can help minimize the risk of theft, restricting access to certain parts of a device can help minimize the risk of tampering. For instance, if USB peripherals will never be plugged into a workstation, disable those ports (either physically or via software) to eliminate that potential access point.

6. Protect your printers
Sensitive documents left at a shared printer may be seen or picked up by unauthorized users—exposing your business to another potential physical security breach. Pull print solutions like HP JetAdvantage Private Print can help eliminate this risk by only allowing authorized users to retrieve documents from an HP printer [4]. Find out more about this complimentary HP service here.

For IT security to work effectively it needs to work at every level, from the software and BIOS, to the network and physical security measures. With over half of organizations having experienced data loss due to insecure devices [5], there’s no better time than now to ensure that your own physical security measures are keeping your hardware and data safe.
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[1] Merchant Warehouse, Entry Point: POS Vulnerabilities You Didn’t Know Were There
[2] Druva, Security Breaches Are On The Rise But Preventable
[3] Ponemon Institute, The Billion Dollar Lost Laptop Problem
[4] HP JetAdvantage Private Print is available only in North America and select European countries on many HP printers and MFPs. Feature is available at no charge and requires the printer to be connected to the internet with web services enabled. Card reader is available for separate purchase for selected HP devices and touchscreens. For more information and device compatibility details, see hpjetadvantage.com.
[5] Ponemon Institute, Global Study on Mobility Risks