News Item: : Securing Your Laptop
(Category: Steve Harrison)
Posted by Elizabeth
Thursday, July 30 2009 - 11:59:25
Securing Your Laptop
by Steve Harrison
So it seems just about everyone has a laptop these days. The convenience of carrying one’s “world” in a portable fashion is almost too hard to pass up. We all enjoy the ease of accessing data from just about anywhere. The pros outweigh the cons, but there are certainly plenty of things to worry about when one’s “world” is along for the ride. There is a risk of dropping or simply losing a laptop, not to mention that laptops are always subjected to a significant amount of extra wear and tear. For most of us, nothing ever happens; for some, EVERYTHING seems to. As a laptop user myself, I have devised a fairly thorough list of precautions one should take to protect his/her investment:
1. ALWAYS have a backup. Although many of my later suggestions can help avoid problems, the best defense is keeping irreplaceable data in more than one place. Get yourself an external hard drive, all of which are fairly inexpensive, and copy your files to it. A better method is to use some kind of automated software to execute your backups so you don’t have to remember. Backups protect you from accidental deleting of files, but also provide a way to restore data in the event of mechanical failure or theft.
2. Password-protect your computer. All can benefit from this, but especially laptop users. Disable automatic login to your machine and set a screen-saver password. This will keep your information safe to a certain degree. In an office environment, confidential data can be kept from prying eyes. If your machine is stolen, a criminal won’t have carte blanche access to your data without a certain degree of trouble.
3. Buy a lock. There are several companies that sell cable locks, which are very similar to what you would buy for a bicycle. These devices allow a laptop to be anchored to a desk and are always bolt-cutter resistant. Pretty much every laptop has a Kensington security slot, which is designed to receive these locking mechanisms. Kensington.com is a great place to look if you need a good combination or keyed lock for your laptop.
4. Encrypt your files. Several software applications include password-protection of documents. Some operating systems have a global encryption that will password-protect everything on the fly. Mac OS X has FileVault. Windows has Encrypting File System. You can also get compression software that will create password-protected archives. Encryption will keep your files safe even if copied to another computer.
5. Buy LoJack for Laptops. Several software developers make applications that protect your machine in the event of theft. These programs cannot be removed easily and include phone-home and hardware/software-disabling features. If a stolen laptop goes online, the LoJack software may make recovery possible by reporting IP addresses and taking webcam snapshots, but at the very least, will make it unusable for unauthorized access. A good LoJack application will also allow for remote erasing of data. If you can’t have your laptop and files, a criminal shouldn’t either. Absolute Software and Orbicule are a couple of software manufacturers that develop this type of software for computers.
6. Last, but not least – use a hardware-level password. For Mac users, this is called an Open-Firmware password; for Windows, it’s a BIOS password. Setting this level of security will prevent your machine from being easily reformatted for a quick resell at the pawn shop. With the hardware locked-down in this manner, a thief won’t be able to restart the computer from another source, such as an OS installer disc or external drive. The machine will be essentially unusable without the correct password. If it can’t be used, it can’t be sold!
I hope the above suggestions help you to keep your investment safe. A laptop is an easy target if it is allowed to be. With a reasonable amount of effort, one can deter theft. As always, The RetroTechs are here to help if you find the above too daunting a task. Give us a call today at (404) 352-6210 and get peace of mind!
This news item is from The RetroTechs, Inc.
( http://www.retrotechs.net/archive/news.php?extend.55 )