Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How to Protect Your Laptops

Laptop Protection

My fiancé owns an Aspire and I found a great article over the net and compiled some with the good old fashion security freakyness.


Hardware is your first line of defense against laptop theft. If they can’t get to it, they can’t steal it!

  1. Cables and locks. Virtually all laptops come with those small holes marked with the “K” logo. These are intended to accommodate Kensington-type locks, which let you secure your laptop onto a stationary place with a steel cable so it cannot be carried away without the cable having to be cut (or without significant damage to the laptop’s frame–which would take some time and effort, either way). Use these if you intend to leave your laptop on an office desk unguarded, or if you need to use your laptop out-of-doors, particularly when you doubt the safety of the location. Combination-type or key-type locks could be use. Not such a big price to pay for some peace of mind.
  2. Alarms and sensors. In the event that your laptop gets taken while you’re not looking, alarms can be a good deterrent to a thief’s being able to just run away with his loot. You can install aftermarket devices (such as from Targus) that study your usage patterns and knows when the laptop is picked up and taken by an unauthorized person. And alarm is sounded when the device is suddenly transported outside of the known motion patterns, unless moved with a motion-password is issued (a pre-defined pattern of tilts and turns). Cable-type solutions are also available, in which a central alarm sounds when a cable-type tether is detached from the laptop.
  3. Proximity and location-based systems. You can also employ proximity sensing devices, which usually constitute a separate portable transceiver that would alarm when the laptop is separated by a defined distance (say five feet or so).
  4. Lock it away. If you’re in an office environment and you leave your laptop in your office for extended periods of time (if used as a desktop replacement, for instance), then you can both tether it using a Kensington-type lock and lock the laptop inside a secure cabinet, just to be sure, as cables can be cut–with some effort, of course.
  5. Leave your mark. Consider engraving your (or your company’s) name on your laptop. This would minimize the likelihood of your computer’s being fenced, as it would be obvious that the computer is owned by someone who is evidently not interested in selling it.
  6. Transporting your laptop. The leather or nylon shoulder-bags that come as default laptop carrying cases–especially those with the brand badges–only scream out “Steal me!” It’s best to carry around your laptop in discreet carrying cases to avoid being spotted by would-be laptop thieves. Such are available as aftermarket accessories. Many popular luggage and bag manufacturers create backpacks and shoulder-bags with sleeves and pouches specifically made for laptops. What’s great is that they don’t necessarily have to look like there’s a laptop inside. You can also purchase neoprene sleeves that let you insert your laptop into any bag (where it fits, of course) without worrying about dings and scratches.
  7. Biometrics. Now here’s something new. Some higher-end laptops these days have fingerprint scanners that work in conjunction with software. These let users lock down the system (or sets of documents) and open these up with the swipe or scan of a forefinger or thumb.


Your second line of defense is software. This basically involves securing your data for protection in the event that your hardware falls into the hands of other people. Hey, we wouldn’t want your secret nuclear plans to be stolen by an evil mastermind genius.

  1. BIOS and hard disc passwords. The BIOS password feature is installed on computers for a reason–it’s so your computer cannot easily be accessed at BIOS level. Some notebook manufacturers also employ hard disc security, which ensures your hard drive will not work on any other device unless the correct HDD password is used. While BIOS passwords can be reset if the computer’s CMOS battery is removed, the HDD password usually cannot be re-set, and the hard drive would be rendered useless if the password is lost.
  2. Location-based software. Install software that “phones home” every time the laptop connects to the Internet. This would help pinpoint the location of a lost laptop, basing from IP addresses and ISP records.
  3. Encrypt sensitive information. Be sure to password-protect email accounts and web browsers (so your saved password cache cannot be accessed). If you are storing sensitive documents in your laptop, then it’s best to encrypt these with commercial-grade security software.

Backup your data.
In the unfortunate event that your laptop gets lost or stolen, you would at least have your valuable data left if you have backups. Assuming you don’t have sensitive information stored (or you have everything encrypted and locked down), then you would be limiting your loss to the actual hardware costs.

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