Laptop users have been given a new need to consider security after the theft of devices from high-profile celebrities.

According to media reports, two laptops belonging to actress Keira Knightley were stolen in a burglary and police are concerned that the thieves may try to sell personal contents from the computers. This follows on the case of an (unnamed) pop star, who faced blackmail from criminals due to images that were taken from a stolen laptop.

In that incident, a 'international superstar' was blackmailed over highly sensitive pictures of her after two Apple Mac laptops were stolen from her home.

According to Chris McIntosh, CEO of Stonewood, people will be more nervous about whether criminals will be able to steal, access and abuse their personal information in the wake of these stories.

He said: “As this theft shows, losing important data is not just a problem for the government and big business, it could happen to any of us. Whether that data is personal photos, bank details, business strategies or national secrets, the sad fact is that it represents a fat, juicy target for opportunistic criminals. Not only is theft of personal property a terrible experience, but also people are actually far more at risk from large organisations losing their data.

“People shouldn't live in fear of theft, but at the same time they should make sure they minimise any risks. On your own computer, make sure that data is password-protected and encrypted and that your online history is not recording sensitive information such as bank passwords.

“Similarly, before passing any personal information on to another organisation, make sure that they can protect it. Are their computers encrypted? Are they secure? Is there any chance that your personal information could end up in the wrong hands? If they can't answer these questions satisfactorily, it may be time to take your business elsewhere.”