Car Dealer Insider Nov 15, 2007
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Car Dealer Insider Nov 15, 2007

Lay down the law on personal laptops

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Lay down the law on personal laptops

A recent thread on the DealersEdge Dealers & General Managers Forum debated the risks of letting a salesman use his personal laptop computer to help keep up with Internet-based sales leads. The big concern: how to find a balance between protecting dealership and customer information without hampering the eager employee's enthusiasm.

If you haven't had to give much thought yet to mobile data security, you will. And it's not just laptops. Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are becoming increasingly popular, creating more avenues for data transport outside the dealership. Even USB keys, those tiny data storage devices, can let employees put megabytes of your information onto their key rings or in their pockets.

"It's not a rare item to see employees use their own laptops," says Mike Del Giudice, a certified information systems security professional (CISSP) and a manager in the Risk Consulting group at CPA and consulting firm Crowe Chizek and Company LLC.

Yet it's a practice Mike strongly discourages - especially if the employee's personal laptop is a "nicety" rather than a "necessity," he tells _Dealer Business Briefing.

Be practical

"Does an employee need a laptop for business reasons? If yes, provide them with their own," he suggests to employers. That way you can ensure that the computer is being protected by antivirus software, secure passwords, encryption of sensitive information, and regular patch updates that secure holes and provide software updates. There are even ways to configure remote data deletion for some mobile devices if they are lost or stolen.

With a personally-owned laptop, however, "there is a lot of debate over who is responsible for maintaining the device," says Mike. It's also hard to enforce or review that the necessary security steps are actually being taken. The bottom line: "You can't put the onus on employees to secure the information," he says.

While it may be... (308 of 1230 words)

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