Lost the business laptop…

The business laptop is lost.  The laptop stored business financial information and employee records including W-4 forms containing employee social security numbers and addresses.

Question 1 – Who now has access to all of the data on the laptop?

If the hard drive was not encrypted, the laptop data is open to anyone who now has the laptop.  The basic login passwords in Windows and OS X are easily defeated.

How to Break Into a Mac via LifeHacker

How to Break Into a Windows PC via LifeHacker

BitLocker enables whole-disk encrypted on Windows computers.  BitLocker is available with Windows 8 Pro.

The FileVault option in OS X enables encryption for Macs.

Question 2 – Can the laptop data be recovered?

Other than calling the NSA, can the data from the laptop be recovered?  Along with the usual suggestion to have a good backup, we recommend hosting QuickBooks files in a server environment or using an online accounting tool so financial information is not stored on a local computer.  We are using Xero.com and QuickBooks Online for businesses with very basic accounting needs.

Distributing copies of employee W-4s to strangers is not the fast track to be voted a “Best Places to Work.”