29. March 2008, 19:41 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

It is estimated that a laptop computer is stolen about once every 50-55 seconds. The odds of this happening to you are one in ten. Some common sense in managing your laptop can go a long way to reducing its vulnerability to theft and the resultant hassles.

The first line of defense is obscurity. Don’t announce the presence of a laptop by using an obvious laptop case when traveling. Use a protective sleeve and place it in your briefcase, carry-on or backpack. The second line is the use of visual deterrents. Cable locks and alarms when the machine is in use on table and desktops can stop a thief from even considering trying for that particular machine, or slow him down if he does. Just make sure any table leg you use can’t simply have the cable slid down its length and off the end.

Avoid leaving your laptop unattended. When not in use, lock it in a drawer, cabinet or other secure location. If it must be left in a vehicle place them in the trunk or make sure it is covered and inconspicuous.

If the laptop is stolen you want to make sure that it and the data it holds are as inaccessible as possible. Set a non-trivial boot-up password and change it frequently and encrypt the hard drive. Install tracking software so that if the laptop is used after being stolen it stands a better chance of being recovered. Make sure that you have any data stored on the laptop backed up to a safe location.

Some additional precautions for general safety include the use of appropriate firewall, anti-virus, anti-malware software, and the monitoring of personal information use to prevent identity theft.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: laptop,notebook,security,theft,safety,precautions


WDM Mon Mar 31, 01:55 PM

I had en e-mail in reply to this article. As it was not left as a comment, I’ll only quote part of it as it is quite relevent.

“... But I must respectfully disagree with your point about storing the laptop in the trunk of a car, since our experience has shown that many smash-and-grab thieves will simply pop the trunk and quickly rummage through for valuables. This takes only a few extra seconds during the relatively short time it takes a thief to do his/her damage … treat your laptop as you would your wallet or your purse …”

This is quite true and good advice. Whenever possible take your laptop with you or leave it locked in a secure place. However, on those occasions when it must be left in a vehicle, I would argue that the trunk is still the best place to leave it as it will be out of site and likely the last place checked by thieves as they search the vehicle. Some people have secure boxes mounted in their trunks. If you are one of these than place the laptop in there if you must leave it behind. Note that it should not be left too long in such a manner as extremes of both summer heat and winter cold can damage the battery and may place undue stress on the rest of the laptop as well.


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