Laptop Security Tips
The rising popularity of laptop computers among business people has given rise to a new and equally popular form of high-tech crime: laptop theft.
Some thieves are opportunist, simply looking to sell a stolen laptop for a fraction of its value. While other thieves target certain companies or individuals for the valuable information typically stored in a laptop computer, which may include business plans, customer lists, pricing schedules or other valuable information.
According to industry sources, approximately 208,000 laptops were reported stolen last year. That means there is a 1 in 14 chance that you could be next.
Laptop thefts are occurring with alarming regularity around the world. Anyone who owns or travels with a laptop computer can become a victim. What are the most popular targets? Offices, automobiles, airports and hotel rooms.
Don’t become a statistic. Here are a variety of suggestionsfrom Universal Protection Service to help protect your laptop, and the information stored in it, from theft.
- Use a weatherproof, padded, inconspicuous carrying case for storing and transporting laptops. Cases are now designed to look like backpacks, briefcases, and handbags, that may help to conceal your laptop.
- Store shipments of new or unassigned laptops in locked closets or rooms with controlled access and no false ceilings or partial walls.
Disk Drive Security
- Use a disk drive lock to prevent unauthorized access and operation.
- When possible, remove the hard disk and carry it separately while traveling.
- Check with the laptop manufacturer for other suggestions and available security equipment.
- The following software programs may be used to help protect and secure proprietary information and preserve data.
Password locking programs.
Encryption programs with file compression abilities.
- If your laptop can be connected to a docking station, always access the station’s built-in locking device.
- Never leave your laptop unattended in the office, even for a few minutes! In addition, always use a locking cable to secure the laptop to your desk.
- Do not place your laptop near exterior windows where it can be subject ed to a “smash-and-grab” type of theft.
- Keep your laptop in front of you and in sight at all times.
- Never check a laptop as baggage.
- Take extra care when passing through security checkpoints. Hold your laptop until you are ready to pass through the metal detector. Once you place it on the X-ray machine conveyer belt, do not let it out of your sight.
- If airport security asks to inspect your laptop, make sure you and only you handle it.
- Engrave the company name / ID on all laptops.
- Record the laptop’s identification number and keep it in a safe place.
- Check if the laptop manufacturer or your local police department, offers an asset identification or registry program.
Storage in Cars
- If you must leave your laptop in a car, lock it in the trunk. In sport utility vehicles, station wagons and vans, safeguard it out of sight.
- While driving, store the laptop behind the driver’s seat, not on the front passenger’s seat.
- Avoid storing your laptop in vehicles during very cold or hot weather. If unavoidable, use an insulated case.
Companies should demonstrate a serious attitude when educating employees about computer security to help control the expenses.
To encourage a positive loss prevention approach, companies can:
- Provide annual training and periodic reminders to maintain safety and security awareness.
- Communicate in writing its policies and procedures regarding employee accountability for the safety and security of laptops assigned to them.
- Require a signed copy of such a policy statement from all laptop users.
- Consider making loss of a laptop by gross negligence a performance issue.
- Encourage users to back up their files frequently.
- Guard proprietary information carefully -- it is the lifeblood of the company.
- Maintain a current list of all laptop users, assigned equipment, serial numbers and software. Audit the list annually.
- Conduct both regularly scheduled and random inventory checks.
- Investigate all incidents of theft or accident and publicize the results.
- Make staff aware that all thefts will be reported to the police.