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Laptop Security and Laptop Theft Tips to Stay Protected

by Jan Hertsens

04/10/2006 : Latop Security

Ever noticed your laptop (box) getting admiring glances as you sit around the air terminal waiting for the next flight to come in? There is nothing like generating a little envy as people eye your latest and greatest laptop. Beware these guys may not be probing your goods for aesthetic reasons as laptops are popular targets.

There are several different things you can do to deter laptop theft and the simplest strategy is to keep it in your possession at all times. Even consider a wrist-chain to ensure you and your laptop will never be parted. If you don't want to feel that close you can certainly use hand locks, bicycle locks with sound guards and to ensure you have the default locks set on your case to truly random numbers and not just an easy to break sequence of digits like 123 or 333.

Each laptop should have a security slot. If your case is a battered old favorite never fear you can purchase a nice adhesive add-on that will allow you to use a chain. Once you have all this in place ensure it is tied to something heavy and not something that someone could just left a leg off of and slip the case down. If you're really serious about protecting'your machine you can also get a sensor alarm. These tend to chirp or make small noises if moved too much. Like in the case of someone sitting behind you trying to pull a "switcheroo" with their feet.

If you want to go one better you might consider a theft tracking device embedded into the laptop itself. After the laptop is stolen the thief will invariably try to go online and this is where the anti-theft software takes over reporting where the machine is located and contacts the authorities. It will turn out to be a nasty surprise for the James Bond that just hooked your digital power house.

Here are a few little anti-theft steps to keep spies and thieves at bay:

A) Embed your name and company name on the case and the laptop. It is harder to dispose of property with your name all over it. And the cost of  having it labeled is quite cheap. That doesn't mean they might not cut it up for components, but at the least they aren't getting the full machine and it may act as a deterrent when trying to look for a complete system to swipe. Remember the thief gets his best deal with a completely operational machine.

B) Carry your laptop in a non-standard case. My colleague has done this with great success using the IBM X series simply because it only weighs a couple of pounds. I can be put virtually anywhere. While you?re at it
apply distinctive paint markings to make your laptop unique and easily identifiable. Liquid white-out works well and you can be creative!

C) Never leave your laptop out in the open of your car. Put it in the trunk, preferably in area that will stay as cool as possible. Be sure not to leave it in your trunk for extended periods of times during extreme temperatures. If you don't have a trunk then leave it a locked car and ensure it is covered up well. This is still risky and you are better off carrying it with you, but this is better than plain sight.

D) Never check your laptop in as luggage. It should remain on as a carry-on at all times, not to mention laptops were not meant for the extremes under plane cargo. Watch for the x-ray scam. This hustle usually take two guys who will try to use similar cases to cut you off and confuse use as to what case is yours. Put your case in ONLY when you are ready to walk through security and while going down security keep your eye own your case. If you are flagged for a further audit, ask the TSA personnel to retrieve your laptop because you do not want it out of site. They will comply.

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In a future installment we can look at a number of ways to password-protect your machine and to use encryption so if you are unlucky enough to have your portable computer stolen they can't use anything- later models now sport easy to use finger tip recognition. In the meantime don't be afraid to spend a little money on counter measures. Not only are laptops expensive, the information you have on them is often vital and disasterous if lost.


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