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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Be Extreme About Laptop Vigilance

Taken from an article by Ric Edelman
Newspaper Enterprise Association
July 11, 2006

Steps To Protect Yourself (& Your Laptop or PDA or Handphone!)

1.  Store your laptop's serial number in a secure location.

2.  Register your laptop with the manufacturer. Let them know if it is stolen, so the manufacturer can return it to you if it is sent in for repairs.

3.  Attach a tamper-resistant tag to your computer, so police can contact you if they recover it.

4.  Install anti-theft tracking software, such as absolute.com or ztrace.com on your laptop's hard drive. If you tell the monitoring service that your laptop is missing, it will try to contact your computer via the Internet. After the connection is made, the service will provide tracking information to police.

5.  Don't save passwords on your laptop, and prevent your username from being displayed in the logon dialog box. Hackers could get into your computer if they locate a password that matches your username. You and your employer can have a policy that computers are not to remember usernames and passwords, so both must be installed each time you log on.

6.  Also, regularly delete cookies that your Internet browser saves, many of which store personal data. On Internet Explorer, go to Tools, then Internet Options. Click on Delete Cookies and then click OK.

7.  Attach a security cable to the laptop's Universal Security Slot. Once in place, you can attach the cable to an immovable object -- and you should do this no matter where you are, even your office (you'd be surprised how many laptops are stolen at work). Better yet: Add a motion-sensing locking device that sounds an alarm when someone tampers with the security cable.

8.  If you don't use a locking cable, store your laptop in a locked drawer when you are not in your office.

9.  Before you leave your office, copy all the data that are on your laptop's hard drive. Do not keep the backup data in the same bag as the laptop.

10.  When traveling, shun computer carrying cases; they announce to the world that a laptop is inside. Instead, carry your laptop in another type of bag or briefcase that disguises the contents; backpacks are a great solution.

11.  When you travel, never check your laptop with your baggage. Instead, carry it with you.

12.  When you pass through airport security, keep your eyes on your laptop, not the security guards. Thieves often help themselves to your computer when it is on the conveyor belt while you're distracted.

13.  Before you fall asleep in the terminal or on the plane, attach the laptop's security cable to your wrist or belt.

14.  Once you arrive at your hotel, don't merely lock your laptop to a table. Although a thief can't take it, he might try to access the data.

15.  If you take your laptop to a conference room, you must keep the laptop in sight at all times. Do not leave the room without first appointing someone you trust to watch it for you during your absence. If you lose your laptop, immediately inform the building's security department. Then file a police report and contact your IT department and manager. If you store personal financial data on the laptop and it is stolen, have fraud alerts placed on all of your bank, investment and credit card accounts.