Laptop Security: Stop Thieves Cold
Whether your laptop travels all over the country or mostly stays in your house, you need to take a few easy and inexpensive security measures.
Thieves like laptops because these electronics are expensive, very easy to snatch and can contain a wealth of personal information. And because laptops are literally all over the place, from bus stations to busy office buildings, the odds of a thief meeting your computer are good.
Even if your computer is insured, you must still deal with the lost data should something happen. If the police donít recover your stolen laptop, every irreplaceable file is gone forever. Even if your insurance company will gladly replace the stolen item, they cannot recreate your sensitive data. This is the number-one reason you should take as many security precautions as possible.
There are several ways to make your laptop a hard target for would-be thieves. If you consistently invoke these measures, youíll be able to relax knowing that your highly-valuable data is secure.
Take out an insurance policy if one doesnít already exist. This is reassurance that youíll be able to get another computer should something happen to this one. You should still use the following security measures, though, to avoid the insurance-claim hassle.
Make frequent backups of your most important files. Store these extra copies anywhere but with your laptop.
When youíre in public Ė the airport, a coffee house or other public Internet access point Ė keep your eyes on your laptop. If you get up to use the restroom, take the computer with you. Even if youíre only going to buy another cup of coffee, you should take the laptop along. This seems inconvenient, but itís nothing compared to the hassle youíll face if you provide a thief with an easy crime of opportunity.
Use hotel safes when you canít take the laptop with you. If your room doesnít come with its own safe, check with the front desk: thereís usually a secure place in or near the lobby for storage of valuables.
Laptops and car trunks go well together. This is the best place to store your computer when it canít go inside with you. If a thief canít see valuables in the car, he or she will move on.
Trade your carrying case for something that doesnít scream ďthousand-dollar laptop in here!Ē Briefcases and backpacks are good alternatives. Pick a bag or case thatís sturdy and well-padded so you donít have to worry about damaging your computer.
Use a laptop lock. These systems arenít burglar-proof, but the sight of a lock makes most people look for someone elseís unsecured computer.
Consider tracking software. An Internet search will reveal a wide range of programs that can be hidden on your computerís hard drive. Some record IP addresses and use the information to help the police track down your computer. In most cases, the software and accompanying service will cost you less than fifty dollars a year: a great price for your security.
If youíre highly concerned about security, you can consider even more anti-theft measures. Alarm systems are popular, as are tracking labels and programs that shut down the entire system if a thief moves the computer. You can investigate each of these to find the one that works best for your needs and budget.
If you use common sense and remain aware of your surroundings, your laptop shouldnít be a target. Many thefts are crimes of opportunity: the thief sees an easy steal and goes for it without much, if any, forethought. Make your valuable device hard to grab and the would-be thief will leave you alone.