Your anti-virus software is always up-to-date and you wouldnt dream of logging on to the Internet without the protection of a firewall. Those are important steps for protecting your digital world from viruses, malware, spyware and other software nasties. Do you think youre doing enough to protect yourself from good, old-fashioned hardware theft?
In 2011, more than a third of businesses surveyed by the Computer Security Institute reported laptop or hardware theft or loss. The risk is also significant for highly mobile individuals like business people or college students who carry laptops, tablets, netbooks, notebooks and smartphones with them everywhere. The FBI notes that laptop theft from airports is especially common, and warns those traveling abroad to be extra vigilant ”so summer travelers, take note!
Aside from the expense and hassle of replacing stolen or lost hardware, having your PC, smartphone or tablet in the hands of someone you dont know can expose your personal information including bank account and Social Security numbers to identity thieves. For businesses, laptop theft can lead to embarrassing and damaging data breaches.
In addition to common sense steps, like never letting your laptop out of your sight and never leaving it in plain sight in a locked car, you can find security options to help protect your hardware. Here are a few that are widely recommended:
Labels Simply putting your name and/or company name on labels conspicuously placed on your laptop may deter thieves and ensure your PC is returned to you if its lost and a good Samaritan finds it. The flip side of this measure, however, is that if your laptop is stolen by identity thieves, those labels with your name on it could make their job a little easier.
Tracking software While tracking software wont prevent theft, the idea is it can help you recover your property and catch the thieves if your laptop is stolen. These programs can report a laptops physical location the first time the thief uses your device to connect to the Internet. Some also allow you to disable the computer, wipe the hard drive of data, and retrieve information remotely, too.
Cable locks These are a tried-and-true option for business users. The cable locks your laptop to a fixed station, ensuring its difficult, if not impossible, for any unauthorized person to move the PC.
Laptop lockers/safes If you travel a lot and must leave your laptop in a less secure location, such as the trunk of your car or dorm room, laptop lockers/safes may be an option for you. They mount easily on walls, furniture or in the trunk of your car and you lock your laptop inside them when you cant take it with you.
Backpack or briefcase One of the easiest, low-tech ways to protect your laptop is to make it look like youre not carrying one. Instead of using a laptop bag, which advertises what youre carrying, slip your laptop into a well-padded backpack or common briefcase.