Laptop Security Tips
Laptops are the number one theft item in the United States, according to FBI and the insurance institute records. Approximately 1,800 are stolen per day in this country alone. This number is expected to quadruple in the next few years since laptops, tablets and notebooks are becoming more affordable. With this in mind, we've compiled a list of things you can do to improve the security of your laptop.
The Top 5 Security Tips
Concentrating on these five tips can reduce laptop thefts by as much as 95 percent.
1) Lock it up - Lock your laptop in a desk drawer or in a lockable cabinet. Thieves can't steal what they don't know about.
2) Lock it down - Use a steel lockdown cable lock to secure the laptop to a sturdy, preferably immobile, object. It takes time to cut the cable or break the lock out of the laptop and this is time the thief doesn't have.
3) Lock them out - Lock your office door. The bad guys always go for the easy theft and locking your office door presents the first barrier they have to go through. This has the added advantage of securing everything else in your office.
4) When traveling, keep it with you at all times - Any time the laptop is out of a secured environment (like your office), it becomes a much easier target for the thieves. Airports and hotel rooms are common places when laptops are misplaced or left alone and are subsequently stolen. Even more common is leaving laptops in a car. Breaking a car window to steal a laptop provides a high-value item in a short amount of time. Car trunks are only slightly more secure, so try to keep the laptop in your possession.
5) Don't carry anything you can't afford to lose - Improved storage technologies allow for laptop hard drives as large as 500GB and this size is growing. Increased storage capabilities make it very tempting to store more and more on the laptop, from personal pictures, movies and correspondence, to sensitive patient information, credit and tax information and critical research data. Theft of a laptop means theft of everything stored on it, which can lead to consequences ranging from simple inconvenience to identity theft, lawsuits and loss of research funding.
Other security tips:
Use a nondescript laptop bag - Try to pick a laptop carrier that doesn't blatantly advertise that you are carrying a laptop; this is the equivalent of saying "Steal me now!" Consider using a padded briefcase or backpack instead.
Use security software if it is available - There are various types of software designed to add security "value" to your laptop. Disk encryption is required for all University-owned laptops, but there are versions available for personally-owned laptops, as well. Likewise, laptop recovery software is available for both personal and University laptops. There are even add-ons that sound an alarm if there is unexpected motion or if the laptop is moved outside a specified area.
Backup - Because of their portability and low cost, many people frequently forget to backup the data on their laptops. As mentioned in Tip #5, hard disk storage is getting larger, which means there is that much more to lose. Remember, a good backup can turn a catastrophe into an inconvenience.
Report a theft immediately- Laptop thefts must be reported as soon as possible to UT Police in order to minimize the impact of the theft; this is especially important if sensitive information that could affect a large number of people was stored on the laptop. The longer the time between the theft and the report, the greater the potential for harm and the more complicated the cleanup process. Theft of university-owned laptops must be reported to UT Police. If the laptop is stolen off-campus, notify local law enforcement first and then notify UT Police. It is also in your best interest to report thefts of personally-owned laptops to UT Police so they can work with local law enforcement. In all cases, be sure to get the case number of the police report(s) for any insurance claims.
A final note - Don't make it easy for thieves. Put as many layers and obstacles between them and your laptop as you can. This applies to any sensitive equipment and data.
Check with your TSR or call the IMS Service Desk (Triage) or the Information Security Hotline at 210- 567-7777 for more information.
Secure your laptop from theft with locks.
Description: The vast majority of laptop thefts can be prevented by securing them to a solid structure. For laptops, there are cable locks available for that purpose. They are inexpensive and convenient. Use cable locks anywhere you use your laptop for added assurance against theft. Cable locks attach to your laptop via a special slot found towards the back of your laptop. They are easy to implement and fit in any laptop bag when you are moving with it.
Helpful hint: Pass the cable though something or wrap the cable around something in such a way that the cable and computer can't be moved. Make it hard for the bad guys!
Contact Information: Computer Store, 210-567-2832, 492.L (Medical Bldg., 4th Floor)
Requirements: More than 98 percent of laptops sold in the last 5 years have the security slot in the back or on the side for a cable lock. Locks can have either a combination or keys. Check for availability and preference before purchasing.
Cost: About $20.00 to $50.00, depending on the style. Immediately available at the Computer Store; call for pricing.