Drive Encryption Software Or Laptop Insurance For Protection?.

A UK company called Protect your bubble is offering laptop insurance for £3.99 a month (about US$6.00).  While such protection products are to be welcomed, one must remember that we’re talking about asset protection, not data protection, which is only possible via tools like hard disk encryption such as AlertBoot.

It’s a Good Idea to Get It Insured–Just In Case.  Really?

Protect your bubble states the following:

When your laptop has so many precious items on it, like all your photos, bookmarks and documents, it’s a good idea to get it insured – just in case. Plus the cost of replacing your laptop is another important reason to make sure you’re covered.

I couldn’t agree–and disagree–more.  Certainly, a laptop computer can be a tremendous investment, and one may want to consider insuring it.  After all, these devices probably have a higher theft rate than cars, and pretty much everyone has auto theft insurance for the latter in one form or another (although, you really should check if you actually do).

Of course, vehicles tend to be much more expensive than laptops; but, the price of insurance is relative to the asset being protected.  Let me pose this question, though: how is insurance going to bring back your photos, bookmarks, and documents?  It’s not.

“Risk” is a Catchall Word

When dealing with risk involving laptops, you have to pay attention to what you mean.  Risk is a catchall term.  If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, you’d see that there are many different kinds of risks when dealing with a lost or stolen laptop computer.

  • Asset risk

  • Data breach risk

  • Data loss risk

  • Lost opportunity risk

Risk is not confined to the above, but these four are the ones that popped into my head.

Asset risk is the loss of the laptop, of course.  If you’re out a computer, you’ll have to get a new one that at least has the same functions and capabilities as the one you just lost.  Essentially, if you’re out a laptop, you’ll probably have get a new one.  Insurance is about the only way to mitigate this risk unless you’re willing to engage in some unorthodox asset risk mitigation practices, such as stealing the same exact model to replace your old one.  Such mitigation carries additional risks, such as jail time.

Data breach risk is the danger of having your–or others’–sensitive and private data exposed, such as SSNs, passwords and access to on-line bank accounts, tax returns, or other information.  The only to mitigate this risk is to use data protection tools.  When security experts are asked, most will agree that encryption software is about the only tool that truly effectively minimizes data breach risks.

Data loss risk is the danger of losing your data permanently.  Be it a list of customer SSNs that are encrypted, your college honors thesis, or a folder full of family pictures, this data is lost if your laptop is lost.  No amount of insurance will bring back this stuff.  The only way to mitigate this particular risk is to backup data.

Finally, the risk of lost opportunities is the “risk” you face while you wait around for your company to pay up for a new laptop.  While you’re waiting, you’re out a laptop.  The only way to mitigate this risk is to have a second computer available, just in case.  Or, you could borrow a friend’s or use a public computer, but you’d be hampered, and this leads to lost opportunities. 

I’m nitpicking, but Protect your bubble should rewrite the above quote so that it puts the cost of replacing a laptop front and center.  Otherwise, people might think that the offered financial product covers more than it actually does.

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