More of us are increasingly using laptops and handheld computers these days for their ease of use and portability and, with the proliferation of wi-fi ‘hotspots’ and other ways of connecting to the internet, a laptop is a highly useful device for enabling workers to keep connected while travelling around the UK and abroad.
However, with their benefits there will inevitably be drawbacks. One is the ease at which laptops can be stolen. They are highly prized by thieves not simply because of their street value but, far more importantly, it’s the information which is held upon a laptop that is of interest to a would be fraudster. We’re all too familiar with news stories where data and security compromises have resulted in the theft of data which potential fraudsters could use to commit crime. So, if you use a laptop, here are some important issues to bear in mind.
Protecting the Laptop Itself from Theft
Carry your laptop around in a completely non-descript case which will, at least deter most ‘chancers’ such as a mugger. It’s reckoned that the majority of laptops are stolen from airports followed by from cars, hotel rooms and finally from the home. This seems to suggest that in the case of an airport, people tend to leave it on the seat next to them when it’s not in use and it only takes a few seconds distraction for someone to snatch it. Criminals know this and will often work in teams of two or more to capitalise on this fact so never let your laptop out of your sight when you’re in airports or using other forms of public transport like trains, for example.
Always take a laptop on board a plane with you. Never check it into the hold. When it comes to your own vehicle, don’t leave a laptop sitting on the seat of your car whilst it’s parked as it’s an open invitation for a thief. If you’re working in an office or some other area where you may have to get up and walk about whilst you’re using your laptop, either always take it with you or use a protective lock to chain it firmly to something solid and immovable – like a radiator for example but never leave it unattended on public transport.
Protecting the Data
As mentioned previously, for the professional data thief, the laptop itself is just a by-product of what he or she is really after – the most important thing to them is the information which might be held on it. If you have information contained on a laptop, always store any extremely sensitive and confidential information where possible on an external storage device such as a memory stick, CD-ROM or even an external hard drive and keep that safe and separate from the laptop itself. That way, even if the laptop is stolen, your data will still be safe with you.
Even if the information is not particularly sensitive but simply important or useful to you, then it always makes sense to make a copy of any such information and to store that on an external storage device so that you’ve always got access to it in the event that your laptop goes missing. Make sure that you use a firewall and that any wireless connections you’re making are protected by encryption such as WEP or WPA to avoid hackers attempting to connect to your laptop too.
There are all kinds of software programs available these days to help you with the protection of data but the best kind of protection possible starts with your own vigilance and understanding of how to protect both your laptop and the information it holds and, if you’re unsure about all the precautions and preventative measures you should be taking, either speak to your workplace IT technician or your local high street retailer for more sound advice.
Last Updated on 25 May 2021