Protect your laptop with these 5 anti theft steps

computer network security advice

What really hurts?

When people steal a laptop, they are not just stealing a piece of expensive hardware. They may be stealing the intimate details of a person's personal life, financial secrets and details and information that may be crucial to running one's life. Losing the hardware hurts, but losing the data hurts even more.

Besides the tremendous inconvenience of not having access to important people or institutions at your fingertips, there are other worries. If the thieves use the passwords and other information to do identity theft, they can introduce a whole new world of hurt. Buzzblog reports on the case of laptop which had personal information about Boeing Wichita employees and the tale of woe of one of those employees that was victimized. Multiple accounts were opened with his information and it took him years to clear his name and he is still not free of problems.

The Stages of Laptop Theft Protection

These are the stages of laptop theft protection

  1. Detection - if they don't know that you have a laptop,  they won't try to steal it. Hiding it avoids problems.
  2. Access - Don't allow a thief to have free access to your laptop. Stay near it and don't leave it unguarded. Lock it, secure it and/or alarm it
  3. Data Protection - Back it up so that even if the laptop is stolen or destroyed, you still have your information. Encrypt it so that unauthorized people can't get at it.
  4. Make it recoverable - Mark it or stamp it with personal identification. Register it with the manufacturer.
  5. Locate it - Use tracking software to find it if it was lost or stolen.

1.Detection Prevention

There's nothing that broadcasts the fact that you have a valuable laptop more than a fancy special laptop case. The best way to store the laptop when you travel or move is to put it in a nondescript bag or briefcase. eBags sells Pacsafe bags which include backpacks that don't have any hint that they are carrying a laptop. They are also made of rugged materials which can't easily be slashed open. Additionally, they offer rugged locks which can be used to anchor the bag to some immovable object such as a pole or heavy table.

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Don't leave it in your car exposed on the seat. Don't even leave it on a conference table at work unattended.

2.Deny Access

Don't leave it in an open or exposed place where someone can easily grab it and make a quick getaway. If you are out eating with friends, make sure someone is watching it if you step away. Don't get up to greet anyone in a crowded cafeteria or meeting place without taking it with you.

Airport security lines are very vulnerable areas. Don't put your laptop through the security machine until you are ready to go through the metal detector. Don't go into the metal detector until the laptop is in the machine and take it as soon as it gets out.

Even when you are using your laptop and you want to look at something or talk to someone, it pays to keep a hand or a finger on the laptop so that you are always aware of its status.

An extra level of protection can be provided by installing a lock or alarm. In an office environment, it makes sense to use a docking station which will secure the laptop to your desk.

3.Data Protection

The most valuable part of a laptop is actually the data that is on it. Protect it by backing it up. This is true even for desktop computers. Acronis and Fabs are 2 very powerful and effective backup programs. Back up to an external drive and keep it somewhere away from your laptop when not in use. In this way, even if your laptop is lost, destroyed or stolen you will be able to recover all your data.

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Online backup is especially useful for notebooks, ipads or laptops that are taken from place to place. They are always backing up wherever you are. However, this should not be the only form of backup that you use for a number of reasons described in . Idrive, Carbonite and Mozy are good programs with Idrive being my favorite.

Protect your personal and sensitive data from others by putting it into unreadable code. Encrypt your data so that only you or someone you trust can see it. I personally do this with Truecrypt which is free. For a full discussion of encryption see Security and Encryption.

Turn off your encrypted volume or drive when your laptop is not in use so that it will not be available to anyone that gets your laptop.

4.Make It Recoverable

If your laptop is lost or stolen, you want and honest finder to be able to return it and you want to be able to prove ownership in case the authorities locate it.

You should register your backup with your computer vendor. They can vouch for your ownership.

Another good idea is to tag it with and identification tag. It will have anonymous return information and may offer a reward for return. They are made to be difficult to remove. ArmorTag is one company that provides this service. Trackitback also provides for tagging and supports a reward and return service.

5.Locate the Stolen Laptop

You can also install location software which will use GPS technology to let the authorities locate your laptop when lost or stolen. The software also allows for disabling the computer or destroying sensitive data remotely. Once you indicate that the laptop is missing, the program will start transmitting its location to a central server and police agencies are alerted and can get it back.

LoJack for Laptops


Follow the 5 steps above to insure that your laptop stays safely with you. A few simple steps can save a world of grief.

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