Ask Jack: Is "Smash And Grab" Of Employee Devices Still A Risk For Organizations?

By Jack McCalmon, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

You used to hear stories of laptops being stolen and verdicts or settlements because of stolen laptops. Is "smash and grab" of laptops no longer a thing?

Yes, laptops and other stolen devices still pose a significant risk if stolen, especially if employees download and store data on their devices; their devices are not secured by a strong password; and/or if credentials to accounts and systems are stored on the device.

The good news is that it appears that employees are securing their laptops better, which means not leaving them unattended in public or in sight within a parked vehicle. Employees are also securing theirs laptops with strong and secure passwords or biometric recognition.

However, the biggest change is that most laptops are no longer used to store data, but are simply an access point to protected data via the cloud.  So stealing a laptop, while inconvenient, may not provide the same bounty it did just a few years ago to cyber thieves.

The final takeaway is that employers must still stress device security. Importantly, let your organization know immediately when a device is stolen so, hopefully, IT can address any security risk remotely before it becomes a problem.

Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, and Emily Brodzinski are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.

If you have a question that you would like Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, or Emily Brodzinski to consider for this column, please submit it to Please note that The McCalmon Group cannot guarantee that your question will be answered. Answers are based on generally accepted risk management best practices. They are not, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you need an answer immediately or desire legal advice, please call your local legal counsel.


Finally, your opinion is important to us. Please complete the opinion survey: