Best Practices & Security Recommendations for Laptop Theft Prevention

Security Cables

Laptop security cables are the first thing that springs to mind when we think of security recommendations for laptop theft prevention but they suffer from two unfortunate flaws: they are easy to cut; and it is often hard to locate an appropriate object to attack them to.

While the first flaw is unavoidable, security cables will still deter the unmotivated or unprepared thief if fastened properly to a stationary object. The key thing when using a security cable is to make sure that the cable is secured to a piece of furniture which is bolted to the ground or unwieldy enough that it cannot be moved. A common mistake is to fasten the cable around a table leg only to have the thief lift the table’s corner and slide the cable under the leg – leaving your laptop unsecured.

Safes and Alarms

If you’re willing to spend a bit more, then you’ll find there’s a number of safes and alarms available for laptops. While a laptop alarm will be effective in drawing attention, many alarms are not loud enough and can be muffled easily by everyday objects like a coat. This means that a prepared thief can still walk off with your laptop without drawing attention to his or her actions.

Safes are the most secure place for your laptop, but have the drawback of being stationary and harder to access. However, it’s still worth confirming that your accommodations will have a safe available when on the road. This will ensure that you can leave your room knowing that your laptop will still be there when you get back.

Personal Security Measures

Beyond the hardware you can purchase, you should also consider some personal security recommendations for laptop theft prevention:

-When leaving your laptop in a car hide it under a seat. The trunk may seem like a safe place, but it is frequently checked by thieves breaking into a car.

-Does your laptop bag draw attention to the fact that there’s a laptop inside? Consider using a back pack or a more discrete bag which leaves the contents of the bag vague.

-Don’t think that because you’re at the office your laptop is safe. According to IBM 40% of all laptop theft takes place in the workplace.

-Pay particular attention during airport screenings. Most airport screeners are too focused on screening passengers to keep track of who picks up each laptop so the responsibility falls on you.

Risk Management

In the unfortunate case that you find your laptop has been stolen it’s important to be prepared. If any sort of tracking software is installed be sure to alert the company which monitors your laptop’s location. Make sure your hard drive is encrypted so that the thief does not have access to the precious data housed within your laptop. Finally, be sure to have your laptop’s serial number written down somewhere; you’ll need it to file a police report and for insurance purposes.

Sources and Further Reading

Symantec Laptop Security: Preventing Laptop Theft

IBM Redbooks: Laptop Security Basics

OnGuard Online: Laptop Security

Microsoft at Work: Laptop Security on the Road