In the past year, we have seen frequent media reports of high-profile laptop thefts and losses, from the NHS to high street banks. Now, Marks & Spencer has joined the list.

Any organisation that handles sensitive information about employees or the public has a responsibility to protect them, and traditional passwords are too easily compromised. If we can't stop theft of laptops, we can at least make them less valuable in terms of the data stored on them by encrypting it. Our survey of 1,200 security professionals showed that only 44 per cent of laptop data is protected, highlighting how widespread the problem is.

Employing layers of security is critical for ensuring sensitive information is kept from unauthorised eyes. A combination of data encryption and using a smart card or a separate USB token to unlock the laptop will reduce the risk of hackers accessing sensitive information.

People can accept that random thefts and losses of laptops are inevitable. However, we cannot accept that the data on stolen items continues to be virtually unprotected and can easily fall into the wrong hands.

Gary Clark, vice-president, EMEA SafeNet.