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How Safe is Your Notebook?

Hundreds of thousands of laptop computers are stolen every year, yet only a tiny percentage of those laptops are ever recovered! Most notebooks are swiped when they are left unattended in offices, hotel conference rooms, taxi cabs, and public places such as airports and restaurants.

When your laptop is sold on the street, valuable data is lost with it. Sometimes the data, not the computer, is the real target. A devious thief with access to personal details stored on your laptop's hard drive such as, name, address, date of birth, bank details, and social security number, could wreak havoc with your personal finances and credit rating.

There have been many high profile victims of laptop theft. Recently a laptop computer was stolen from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's press secretary, Margita Thompson. Access to confidential political data may have been the prominent motive behind the theft of this notebook.

Protecting your laptop computer

Recently IBM has created a fingerprint reader for select Thinkpad T42 models, that could well be the future of laptop security. The fingerprint reader creates a biometric layer of security almost impossible to breach, but what about the rest of us with older notebooks?

Below you'll find 4 useful ways to protect your laptop computer.

Laptop cable locks

Cable locks should deter the casual pilferer. Many laptops are equipped with a Universal Security Slot (USS) that allows the notebook to be attached to a cable lock. They can be purchased cheaply at office supply outlets and computer stores.

Engraving your laptop computer

Permanently engraving your precious notebook may seem like a drastic measure, but marking the outer case of the laptop with your phone number and address, may deter thieves and, if stolen, increase the chance of having the laptop returned to you.

Laptop motion detectors

Equipping your notebook with a motion detector alarm that sets of a loud noise if it is moved. Such an alarm might cause a thief to discard the laptop. An interesting variation is a small radio transmitter that triggers an alarm when a notebook moves more than 10-20 feet away from a receiver kept in your purse, wallet or pocket. Such an alarm would certainly alert the thousands of people a year who simply leave their laptops in taxis.

Laptop tracking

Stolen laptops can be electronically traced using a software tracking code installed inside the laptop's hard drive. Tracing programs, such as Cyberangel work when the laptop connects to the Internet and secretly reports the location of the laptop. Computrace Personal offers a similar service through a three year contract and agrees to pay up to $1000 if your notebook computer is not recovered in thirty days. Ztrace is a company offering an interesting twist to laptop tracking. They offer a facility to remotely delete or encrypt sensitive files on your laptop after it is stolen.

The portability of laptop computers is both a boon to busy executives and to laptop thieves. Learning to secure your notebook will thwart their efforts and keep your laptop and precious data safe!


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