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Laptop Theft Tips on how to avoid or mitigate it

You may be travelling for company or personal work and you may taking your laptop along with you. Your laptop may contain sensitive information about your work or personal information like backup of your Palm handheld. Unsecured information on your laptop makes your data vulnerable for theft both business and identity theft.

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Simple tips to protect your laptop:
  1. Protect your laptop with a strong password: If you travel with your laptop frequently, you should secure it with a strong password. A good password would be combination of alpha numeric and special characters. E.g. c00lWelc0me! ... using zero instead of 'o'
  2. Back up before you go: Always back up your information before you take your laptop on a trip. You can't always avoid the financial loss of your equipment, but you can avoid losing all your information in the process.
  3. Be careful what you store on your thumb drives: With the growing popularity and increasing memory capabilities of small flash drives (known as "thumb drives") comes a greater risk of information theft. If you travel with a thumb drive, try not to store sensitive information on it. If you lose the drive or if the drive is stolen it's easy for anyone to access that information.
  4. Don't leave your laptop or its carrying case in plain view in the car; lock it up in the trunk. If they can't see it they can't steal it.
  5. When staying in a hotel, the best practice is to take it with you or to lock it up in an in room safe. If a safe is not available then use a physical cable lock. You may also want to hang up a do not disturb sign on your door.
  6. NEVER leave your laptop for even a second especially in busy airports. It just takes a minute to be distracted, which is enough in most cases for someone to walk away with your laptop.

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Some sophisticated techniques:
  • Data Encryption: Full disk encryption (FDE) can be taken on from a software-based approach, a hardware-based approach, or both - end-based approach. FDE can especially be effective against cold boot attacks and provides protection before the operating system starts up with pre-boot authentication. List of products. Encrypt your data with Windows XP Professional.
  • Remote Laptop Security (RLS) is available to confidently secure data even when the laptop is not in the owner's possession. With Remote Laptop Security, the owner of a laptop can deny access rights to the stolen laptop from any computer with Internet access.
Recommended reading and sources
  1. Laptop Security Tips
  2. Laptop Protection - tips from Microsoft
  3. CNET tips
  4. Mobile Computing
  5. Best Data Encryption options

Santosh Puthran

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