Protecting Your Laptop

When a laptop is stolen, it is gone and so is everything that was on it. Three losses occur: 1) the loss of the machine, 2) the loss of the information on the machine , and 3) the possible security breach if it has sensitive information or school data.

To minimize each of the losses, you need to take the corresponding measure, BEFORE any theft occurs:

  1. Insurance: The economic loss is the easiest to deal with. Insure your laptop. If you have homeowners or renters' insurance, you may already be covered.
  2. Protecting your work: You want to get your data back even if you never see the laptop again. One way to do that is to make frequent backups of your critical files to a device that isn't left connected to the computer. This can be your network user folder, an external hard drive or, more conveniently, a USB thumb drive. You may also burn it to a CDR, or save it via an online backup service.
  3. Encrypt your disk: Encrypting your system will prevent anyone from accessing the information on the laptop.

Of course, the best approach is to avoid having your laptop stolen to begin with. Here are some tips:

  1. Never leave your laptop unattended: This sounds like common sense, but with all the activity that takes place in our school, it-is likely to happen at one time or another if you are not careful. Never leave your laptop out in the open, or in your class room or in a coffee place. Have a friend watch your laptop. Never trust a stranger to watch it.
  2. Never leave your laptop in your vehicle: A thief won't hesitate to break your vehicle's window to steal your laptop. Take your laptop with you when you lock up your car. If you have to leave your laptop in the car, put it in the trunk or out of sight.
  3. Use a discrete laptop case: Go with a regular backpack or a tote instead of a laptop case. The conventional laptop case is a huge indicator to thieves that you're carrying expensive merchandise.
  4. Buy a laptop cable lock: Even though they can be broken into, locking mechanisms force potential thieves to think twice before stealing your laptop. If they have to try hard, they will pass your laptop up for an easier target.

For more protection:

Use secure passwords and update them regularly. The best passwords use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. You can find more information here.  Secure passwords are extremely important because it's not just the hardware and software costs that make your laptop valuable. Stored information like your social security number, credit card numbers and social networking profile information can make you a target for identity theft.