Laptops get taken to school, cafes and on holiday. That is the beauty of a laptop – its portable. But that is also what makes it a target for theft. When you lose your laptop, you don’t only lose a valuable piece of equipment, you could lose your contacts, your photos, files and logins. Hopefully you have a separate back up which is kept in a different location but, even so, the thief has access to sensitive personal information and could have access to your logins, depending on how you have set them up.
Here are the top 10 places computers get stolen:
- Residential Properties
- Universities and Colleges
- Hotels and Motels
- Restaurants and Cafes
- Stores and Shopping Malls
- Public Transit (includes taxis, buses, trains, etc)
- Airports (terminals, security checkpoints, storage areas and airport restaurants)
Here are 8 suggestions for keeping your laptop safe while away from home:
- Don’t ever leave your laptop in your car alone, even if it is hidden in the boot. Thieves love parked cars and could break in even if they can’t see your laptop. Don’t give them the satisfaction of finding such a juicy haul.
- Whether you are at school, in a cafe or an airport terminal, keep your laptop off the floor. If you can’t see it, it’s not safe. If it’s essential to place it on the floor for a moment, put it between your feet and hold it tightly in place.
- Don’t ask someone to keep their eye on it while you go to the toilet, even if they are a friend. They could get distracted. They don’t care about it the way you do. Take it to the toilet with you.
- Clearly mark your laptop on the outside as yours and take note of its serial number for your records.
- While travelling, take your laptop into the plane with you in a bag that doesn’t scream laptop. Definitely don’t check it in.
- While on the subject of travelling, don’t leave your laptop in your hotel room, in a locker or in baggage-hold rooms. If you want it with you while you are travelling, make sure it is on your person at all times. Otherwise leave it at home.
- Don’t use unofficial wireless networks. Even on an official wireless network, take precautions to keep your information safe: don’t log into bank websites, access only encrypted (https) sites, run anti-virus software. Make sure no one is looking over your shoulder.
- You could install a laptop alarm which sounds when there’s unexpected motion, or when the computer moves outside a specified range around you. There are also available “Lojacks” for your computer, a program which reports the location of your stolen laptop once it’s connected to the Internet. This also allows you to remotely delete files and even to freeze the computer completely.
Think of your laptop in the same way as you would a thick wad of cash. Would you leave it alone in a visible place even for a minute? I don’t think so.