Portable computers are made for
traveling and computing at the same time, and are thus incredibly valuable for
their weight. We're talking 'carton of cigarettes' dollars-to-weight ratio here.
Consequently, laptop's make a tempting target for thieves and have been known to
go AWOL with distressing frequency when compared to less expensive things like
your baggage full of Hawaiian shirts.
Having a laptop stolen is a
double-dose of bad news, since not only are you confronted with the fact that
your (at least) $1500 portable PC is now gone, perhaps forever, but you also
have to deal with the possibility of data theft. It's sort of like losing a
wallet, but a wallet cannot hold gigabytes of potentially valuable or personal
data. Credit data, email records, license keys, personal documents, all at the
fingertips of the kind of person who was willing to steal your laptop in the
first place. For business travelers, this is especially bad news.
In this article, we will look at
methods to reduce the risk. First, We will cover physical security methods that
can help prevent laptop theft in the first place, then we will go step-by-step
through some essential data securing techniques that can drastically reduce the
chance of your data being stolen along with your laptop if the worst does
Physical security: Lockdown
There are several physical methods you
can use to secure your mobile device, ranging from chains and alarms to ID
programs which clearly identify the computer as belonging to you. Let's look at
a few options.
Chains and alarms
Several companies, such as Targus and
Kensington, manufacture devices that physically secure your laptop by locking it
to a surface, sort of like a bicycle lock. Of course, these products also share
the same disadvantage that bike locks do, in that a prepared thief can
circumvent them rather easily.
These locks, often called Kensington locks, will
discourage casual theft especially in the office environment. Companies that
have large amounts of employees using laptops would do well to invest in these.
Motion sensing locking devices are also available, and these add an extra layer
of security by setting off a loud alarm if the cable is tampered with.
These products connect to laptops
through special security ports built into the machine itself. All recent laptops
should come with some sort of port for these devices, though some companies
(notably Kensington) require a special branded port for their devices. Check
your laptop's configuration before purchasing one of these locking
the methodology for recognizing or identifying persons based on physiological or behavioral characteristics.
Essentially all security features are based on a combination of three
key concepts; security can be based on something you have, something you know or something