Friday, January 11, 2008

I.T. Tip of the Month - Laptop Travel Safety

Carrying a computer to all corners of the globe can be hard on the nerves. They cost thousands of dollars, you've got your system configured just the way you like it, and you have vital information stored on your hard drive. The theft of your laptop or the data on it would cause you more than minor inconvenience.

Laptop computers are particularly worrisome because they are a high-value item packed into a very small box that can disappear ever so quickly. Here are some tips for your upcoming journey that should help you secure that valuable piece of your company:

  1. Encrypt data on your hard drive or keep it offline. If you have extremely sensitive information it makes sense to use encryption for those folders or files. Another option is to store them on your server so the only way to access them is while connected to the server.
  2. Always use a computer locking system. Products such as a security cable allow you to attach your laptop to an immovable object in your hotel or elsewhere.
  3. Use common sense while your laptop is in your possession. Always keep an eye on it, don’t leave it unattended and always keep it within arm’s reach of you.
  4. Don’t use a branded laptop carrying case. If you travel often this could be your best defense. Find a carrying case that doesn’t scream out "computer" to every would-be thief.
  5. Don’t leave passwords for Windows or VPN attached to or within your laptop case. While this is common sense, it is seen all too often.
  6. Always make sure your data is backed up before traveling. While in transit even a laptop hard drive can experience shocks that can cause damage. Don’t put your laptop in check-in luggage. We all know what a beating our luggage can sometimes endure.
  7. Enable your BIOS system password. This is an additional password, beyond your Windows password, that when enabled, prevents your computer from booting.
  8. Avoid attaching to free WiFi internet connections even from reputable vendors. More and more frequently hackers are setting up “Free WiFi” hot spots that are designed to compromise your computer. If you must connect to unfamiliar networks, turn on Windows Firewall to provide a layer of protection.

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