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Keeping that new laptop safe

Monday, August 21, 2006

Well the calendar says August 21 so that means that millions of students will be heading back to schools all over the country very soon. As the students stroll onto those campuses I am guessing many will be in possession of a brand new laptop computer daddy just paid for, or was paid for with hard work they did over the summer months.

While laptop computers have certainly gotten cheaper over the past couple years the ease of someone snatching that laptop is just as easy. Also the rise in identity theft can be contributed in part to laptop theft around the world. That is why I have decided to write this article about laptop theft / identity theft prevention.

I will spell out the usual mumbo jumbo laptop theft prevention stuff here:

  • Never leave your laptop computer unattended in any public location (i.e. The Library, study lounges, public benches, the all night kegger being held at your dorm, etc.)
  • Always lock offices or dorm rooms where the laptop is left.
  • If possible use a security device such as steel cable locks to secure your laptop computer. Most computer stores sell a number of security devices. Also the laptop manufacturer may recommend and sell overpriced security devices on their own website.
  • Always contact the cops in the event of a theft. Keep a copy of the serial number in a safe place that is easily accessible in the event of a theft.
  • Homeowners insurance may cover the loss of your laptop outside the home (contact your agent or insurance company for more information). People living in apartments should consider getting renters insurance.
  • Register your laptop with your university program.
  • Consider buying a small personal safe that your laptop can fit in along with other important items.

Now onto the fun stuff.

  • Targus sells a laptop computer alarm that senses motion and puts out an ear bleeding scream sure to wake that passed out roommate of yours. Find them cheap at Ebay for around $15-$20 shipped.
  • Thanks to biometrics IBM sells a laptop computer with a fingerprint reader. What this means is when the stupid criminal that takes your laptop tries to use it he will have no luck whatsoever because the laptop will need your fingerprint to boot up. Hopefully the thief will realize this when they are about to take your laptop and move onto an easier target.
  • There are a number of laptop computer tracking services that allow you to hunt down the thief and give him or her a good beating. Ok maybe not quite like that but they can detect what ip address the laptop is using while on the net and then let you know.
  • Use passwords for all logins. Bios password, Hard drive password, user name password, administrator password, and the user tag enabled. Yes this requires entering password hell but if you make one password that fits all of these it should make it easier. Here you can make a password with a Secure Password Generator. Even though random number and letters are hard to remember I remember them by where they are on the keyboard and in relation to each other. It seems to help me.
  • Many of the newer laptops have webcams on them. Here is a sweet webcam security system article if you were lucky enough to get a Mac. There is also something similar for Intel/ Windows based computer with TinCam Video surveillance software which detects motion and then alerts you.
  • Consider buyng a small USB Jump Drive to store sensitive information on. Also backups of important school documents can be saved on them. Nothing would be worse than having your laptop stolen and then be a victim of identity theft.

**Update 8-22-06** Beaumont Hospital in Detroit loses 28,473 patient records in a stolen / missing laptop.

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