The loss of portable devices is gaining more attention as companies strive to balance security concerns with user productivity.  Last week, a group of experts gathered to discuss laptops in particular.

Intel on Thursday brought together a panel of technology security experts to discuss the findings of a recent survey it sponsored, entitled, "The Billion Dollar Lost Laptop Problem." Conducted by Ponemon Institute, the survey gathered data from 329 organizations that have lost a total of more than 86,000 laptops worth a combined $2.1 billion in the past year. Forty-six percent of these systems contained confidential data, but 70 percent lacked basic precautions including encryption, back-up and anti-theft technology.

The numbers are similarly scary for portable storage devices like USB flash drives.  While these drives are extremely convenient for employees, the data stored on the drives needs to be protected.

Members of the panel pointed out two key areas for improving security.  One was implementing security controls that don't require user intervention.  When implementing encryption, it should be seamless and automatically enforced.  Another method of improving security is to include a remote kill or disable technology, so that lost devices can be locked down and secure from leaking data.  Making these features standard in portable devices will go a long way toward preventing future data breaches.