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The beauty of a laptop is that they are especially
portable, allowing you to take your work just about anywhere (depending upon
how long your battery will last and the accessibility of places to
recharge). The downside of the portable nature of laptops is that they can
be easily stolen if left alone, even if for just a few seconds.
Some recent reports have shown that one out of every
ten laptops are stolen and fewer than 3% of those stolen are ever recovered.
In fact, the FBI reported that it lost 160 laptops in a period of fewer than
four years. If a government agency whose reputation is built on security can
lose 3-4 laptops a month, it’s certainly possible that average citizens like
you and me can be a part of the population that experiences the loss of a
With the cost of a new laptop ranging anywhere from just a bit under $1000 for lower end models to several thousand for the best units on the market, it’s important to ensure that something you’ve invested a chunk of change into doesn’t disappear. Here are a few practical tips to protect your laptop:
Keep an Eye on Your Laptop
Make sure that you always know where your laptop is, especially if you’re traveling. When taking your laptop on a flight, it’s best to carry it on rather than send it with your checked luggage. Though we must hope that TSA agents are honest, there are horror stories of individuals whose laptops weren’t in their checked luggage at baggage claim. Think of your laptop as a pile of cash. If you leave your computer somewhere you wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving a stack of $100 bills, it’s probably not a good idea to walk away from it.
Don’t Advertise Your Laptop
While many laptop manufacturers will produce sleek, sexy carrying cases that are specifically designed for their unit, using one use like putting a flashing “THIS IS A LAPTOP” sign on your bag. You’re going to put yourself in a much more secure situation if you transport your laptop in normal luggage or use a backpack that has a laptop friendly section.
Visually Secure It
A potential thief will be deterred by the presence of obvious locks and restraints. While experienced thieves will be able to penetrate these defenses if they have enough time and the right tools, many people will turn to an easier victim if presented with that option. Use a program like S.T.O.P. that attaches a specially made security plate to your laptop. The security plate has a barcode and is registered. Additionally, the program affixes a warning label to your computer that let’s possible thieves know that your laptop is monitored. Also, the majority of new laptops come equipped with a Kensington Security Slot that will allow you to physically secure your laptop to desks, tables, chairs, etc.
Utilize Passwords and Encryptions
By adding passwords and encryptions to your laptop’s programming, you’ll be able to protect any personal or otherwise sensitive information on your computer. As with experienced thieves and locks, an expert hacker will eventually be able to break through your cyber-defenses. That said, you’ll be protected from all but the more hard-core laptop thieves. Considering setting up a BIOS Password for your laptop. The Mac OS X and Windows XP & Vista software programs will allow you to encrypt your files, folders, or hard drive. Use these means of defense.
Use a Professional Encryption Program
There are a number of programs like Steganos Safe that
you may purchase. They will allow you to encrypt your virtual files and even
turn a USB thumb drive or an iPod into a “key” that unlocks your hard drive.
Purchase Anti-Theft Software
Many anti-theft software programs can track and locate your laptop by following the IP address once the stolen computer is used to access the Internet. A program like LoJack For Laptops will cost you about $50 a year, but will give you peace of mind and, according to their website, will recover 3 our of ever 4 stolen laptops that are equipped with the system. These programs are like silent alarms for your laptop and will help track down your stolen goods.
Add Invisible Ultraviolet Markings
These markings will make it so any stolen laptop that belongs to you can be identified as yours and thus, more easily reclaimed. It’s also a good idea to keep record of your laptop’s serial number for the same purpose.
Use Remote Data Deletion
If you keep important professional or personal data on your laptop, it’s important to have a virtual “self-destruct” button. There are a number of programs that will allow you to wipe your computer clean of sensitive data if it is stolen.
Regardless of how good your security measures are, the theft of a laptop is almost inevitable. Ensure that you have a company policy on tracking laptops and reporting any that go missing. Consider purchasing laptop insurance.
By constantly backing up your vital data to another hard drive, you will make it easier to replace your personal data. It’s much easier to purchase new hardware or software that it is to recover client lists or other personal data. Make sure that you’ve got your information stored somewhere you can easily access it.