Tips to Protect Your Laptop from Theft

Memorial Day is the official start of the summer season. A lot of people travel during this time of year, which leaves more people at risk of being victims of theft.  Use these 10 tips to help keep your property and information safe this summer and all year round.

  1. Avoid Using Computer Bags - Computer bags let people know you are carrying a computer, try using a less conspicuous briefcase or carry-on bag instead.

  2. Use Strong Passwords - Creating a strong password can help protect your information if your computer is stolen. A computer locked with a strong password is useless to a thief. Strong passwords usually contain at least one uppercase letter, a number, and a symbol.  Definitely make it a point to memorize your password because a good password is useless if it is stored in the same place as your computer. 

  3. Encrypt Your Data - Windows operating systems allow you to encrypt your files and folders to add an extra layer of protection when needed. If a thief is savvy enough to steal your computer and figure out your password, encryption can be the road block keeping your information safe. 

  4. Use Screen Guard - Screen guards keep people from seeing what is on your computer screen, even if they are looking directly over your shoulder.  They are a good barrier to protect your sensitive information when you want or need to work in a public place.

  5. Carry Your Laptop With You - Always carry on your laptop on a plane, as opposed to leaving it in your luggage. Traveling by car does not leave you free and clear of danger. Make sure your laptop is locked safely in your trunk when not in use, to keep prying eyes from spotting it. 

  6. Keep Your Eye On Your Laptop - Many bags look alike. During the security shuffle that is going on at airports these days, it would be easy for you or someone else to take someone else's bag by mistake, or for a thief to grab it intentionally.

  7. Avoid Setting Your Laptop On The Floor - We all have set our computer bag on the floor while we handled our business at the ticket counter or book store inside the airport, but this can be a dangerous practice. If you must put your bag on the floor, set it down in a way that keeps your body aware of its presence so you don't forget it when you are done.

  8. Buy A Laptop Security Device Or Program - Traveling often means staying in a hotel. If you have to leave your laptop in your room or at a temporary desk if you are traveling for work, a laptop security cable can keep your computer safe.  You can  use these cables similarly to the way you use a cable and lock to secure a bicycle to a stand, increasing the chances your property will still be where you left it when you return.  There are also programs you can put on your computer that will alert you to the location of your laptop when the computer is connected to the Internet, making it more likely that it will find its way back to you.

  9. Try Not To Leave Your Laptop In Your Hotel Room - Things regularly get lost in hotel rooms, and there are always people in a hotel with access to your room aside from you. If you must leave your computer in your room, use a cable, and place the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door to keep the hotel staff out.

  10. Affix Your Name And Contact Information On The Laptop - Information tags such as these improve your chances of having your property returned whether it was intentionally taken or not. 

Even if you follow all of these steps, thieves are tricky and can still end up with your laptop.  If  your laptop is stolen it is important that you do the following:

  1. Change your network password immediately to protect your corporate servers.

  2. Report the theft to local authorities and your company's IT department so they attempt to recover it.

After reading this article you should be better prepared to travel with your laptop without incident, so both of you make it home safe.