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Laptop/Notebook Computer Security: Loss Prevention Tips

Physical Protection

To prevent physical damage or theft, use a sturdy, weatherproof, padded, adequately sized conservative bag that doesn't necessarily look like a computer bag.

Locking Cables
  • Use a Kensington or compatible lock that will secure a laptop to a desk, table, etc.
  • Do not leave laptops unattended, particularly overnight on desktops. If your desk is in a high traffic area or an area accessible by the public, secure your laptop anytime you're away from your desk.
  • Do not position laptops near exterior windows where they are subject to a smash and grab type theft.
Disk Drive Locks
  • The use of a disk drive lock prevents unauthorized access and operation of the computer.
  • Check with the manufacturer for their security suggestions and available security equipment.
  • Store new or undeployed units in secure closets with no false ceilings or partial walls. Conduct regularly scheduled and surprise inventory checks.
Protective Software Programs

Protective software programs protect, secure proprietary information and preserve data.

  • Backup files and keep current copies readily accessible.
  • Use password-locking programs.
  • Use encryption programs or file compression with encryption programs.
  • Use anti-viral software.

Best Practices

The education of users is essential to minimize losses. Users should treat their assigned laptop as if it was $4,000 in cash! The first rule when traveling is "Don't forget your computer!"

Airports
  • Never leave equipment unattended or out of your sight.
  • Never check a laptop as baggage.
  • Let your laptop go through x-ray, never ask for hand inspection.
  • As the laptop goes through x-ray, keep your eyes on it.
  • If security wants to see it operate, you handle it. Try to never let them touch the computer.
Storage in cars
  • If a laptop must be left in a car keep it locked and out of sight.
  • While riding, place the case between the drivers'seat and the rear seat so it won't slide around.
  • Avoid storage in very cold or very hot weather.

Management Controls

  • Maintain and keep current a list of assignees, assigned equipment serial numbers and software.
  • Provide periodic reminders to maintain adequate safety and security awareness.
  • Audit annually, policies, procedures and assigned equipment and software lists.
  • Loss investigations must be done on all stolen equipment. Do not easily accept loss, damage or theft of company property. Investigate all accidents and publicize the results. 

Reviewed 2011-01-24.

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