New research from Symantec claims the average value of the data stored on a notebook computer "exceeds £500,000".

The survey - which was conducted through 1,700 interviews across Europe, the Middle-East and Africa - saw 78 per cent of portable computer users say that the data on their device is of substantial value in terms of intellectual property or commercially sensitive information. The average estimated value was £550,000. Some respondents claimed that their mobile device was worth as much as £5 million.

Symantect also revealed that just 42 per cent of companies automatically back up employees email on laptops, while 45 per cent actually leave backup to the users themselves.

"It's alarming that executives have mobile devices containing data of such financial value and that very little is being done to protect the information on them. The research shows that only a few organisations have measures in place to retrieve this information if their laptop is lost or stolen, which is very worrying," said Lindsey Armstrong, senior vice president EMEA at Symantec.

Inevitably Symantec's conclusions end with a plea that companies should buy more software to protect their notebook fleets against malware.

"It is critical that businesses start looking beyond just the price of the hardware and recognise that they also need to invest in protecting the data stored on these machines," said Armstrong.