Online Exclusive: What You Should Know About Laptop Locks — 5 Pitfalls to Avoid

Losing proprietary business data through the theft of laptops or other devices can be priceless, which is why it’s so important to avoid these five pitfalls

When users are working on their laptops in the office, IT may be lulled into a false sense of security that devices are safe on the premises. Yet research suggests that IT theft in the office is higher than you’d expect – in fact, nearly as high as theft in cars and other forms of transportation. Fortunately, there are steps that IT directors and purchasers can take to secure these valuable investments and the proprietary business data they contain. In fact, research shows that well-implemented security can significantly decrease laptop theft up to 85 percent.

One effective strategy to protect laptops and other devices is the use of laptop locks. Properly designed locks can provide resistance to tampering and theft by securing laptops to a desk, table, or other fixed structure. Of course as is the case with most products, not all of these protective accessories are created equal.

Keeping in mind the importance of choosing the right laptop lock, let’s take a look at five pitfalls to avoid when it comes to lock selection and usage:

Pitfall 1: Believing laptops are safe in the office. Laptops are not necessarily safe where you — and your users — think they are; i.e., in the office. While it might seem to be a reasonable assumption that employees could leave their laptops and other devices unsecured in their own workspaces worry-free, the evidence shows (as noted above) that IT theft in the office is nearly as high as theft in cars and other forms of transportation. Based on this unfortunate reality, it’s not enough for users to simply stick their laptops in an unlocked drawer or keep them on their desks when they aren’t around. IT must take added measures to help users protect and secure these hardware investments that store valuable corporate data.

Pitfall 2: Choosing a lock that employees won’t use. Protecting the company’s hardware and digital investments is contingent on employees understanding their role in security and being able to properly safeguard the equipment that has been entrusted to them. A lock or other security solution that is complicated to implement will be less likely to do its job since employees may misuse it, or simply decide not to use it. To avoid this potential pitfall and increase the likelihood that employees will actually take advantage of the protective measures provided to them, purchase easy-to-use locks for all employees. Additionally, make sure you have policies in place that require employees to use the locks, and provide detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to properly do so. As a best practice, give laptop users one laptop lock for the road and another one for the office so they don’t have to swap them out every time they transport their device.

Pitfall 3: Neglecting proper key management. Some locks are very basic in terms of their functionality to secure a single device, but when you have a goal of protecting laptops and other devices system-wide, you need to consider an anti-theft solution that offers key management. Ensure that the lock you choose includes a master key solution that provides administrative access — the IT manager should have a key to open all locks while each user has his or her own individual lock and key. The goal is for employees to be able to protect their device with their lock, while a master key provides IT or the facilities manager with universal access for self-service to unlock any piece of equipment for upgrades, relocation, and easy replacement of misplaced or lost keys.

Pitfall 4: Choosing a low-quality lock with no warranty. The quality of the lock you choose can mean the difference between protecting or losing the company’s laptops. You want a lock to serve as more than a deterrent to would-be thieves but an actual protector should they get their hands on the device. In selecting a lock, you want one that has been proven to stand up to environmental conditions that could cause rust or corrosion, and has been strength-verified to withstand brute force through testing under rigorous challenges like torque/pull and foreign implements. A carbon steel cable offers cut-resistance and theft-resistance. What’s more, don’t forget the fine print — look for a long warranty period, ideally a limited lifetime warranty.

Pitfall 5: Forgetting to secure your other devices. Laptops are just one type of equipment in the corporate arsenal that needs protection. A dual or twin-headed lock offers the ability to secure your other assets beyond laptops that need protecting, such as monitors or external hard drives.  Printers, hubs, docking stations, conference room phones are all good candidates to be locked down.  Be sure to consider the full range of products to lock down, and take measures to secure these devices as well.

Losing proprietary business data through the theft of laptops or other devices can be priceless, which is why it’s so important to avoid the five pitfalls above. By prioritizing laptop security through the strategic purchase of effective, easy-to-use laptop locks for all employees, you’ll be securing the company’s digital assets — and its future.

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