Friday, April 20, 2007

Laptop Theft: are you ready?

Laptops are becoming more and more popular, and that means that crooks will find a ready market for stolen laptops. Are you prepared for yours to be stolen?
The "it will never happen to me" response is just plain foolish: your laptop is more likely to be stolen off your desk than your cell phone is. And the most important component of the laptop is also its most vulnerable: the hard drive. If it overheats it will crash and you could lose everything. I did, after using my IBM Thinkpad for only 8 days. If you drop it, you lose it. You could drop it at any time.
So when you think of laptop theft ask yourself the other difficult question: do I have any backups at all? I am constantly shocked at how many people carry their data around on their laptops with no backups whatsoever. All those emails, contact details, quotes, and letters just sitting there on a knife edge waiting for the hard drive to go.
Data theft and data loss go hand in hand, and fortunately there is free software that helps with both problems: TrueCrypt. The data is stored in a totally secure format, yet your programs can access the files as though there was nothing different. What makes it even better is that you can back up the entire TrueCrypt volume in one go, and store it on a public server without fear of anyone else being able to read it at all.
So if you are reading this post on your laptop and you don't have TrueCrypt installed, ask yourself three questions:
1. What would happen to my job if my confidential data got into the wrong hands?
2. What would happen to my job if I lost all the data on my laptop?
3. Why wasn't TrueCrypt installed on my laptop when I bought it?


TheGossip said...

Another solution is to use a bag with anti-theft features actually built in such as the MetroSafe 300 or CourierSafe 100 from

Donn Edwards said...

Theft is inevitable, no matter what precautions you take.

They steal the entire bag, and your data is still lost. No thief is going to know that the bag is tamper-proof, and the laptop is still gone, data and all.

Laptops can be stolen from your desk, even with an anti-theft chain in place. Laptops in the boot of a car during a hijacking are also vulnerable.

Remember to make your backups!

Ecoblogger said...

My laptop was stolen 2 years ago at OR Tambo. I was absolutely heartbroken, but while on a trip to the US recently I came across a US company with SA representation that offers protection for mobile devices. They track laptops, iPods & cellphones for like a fraction of the purchase price. One can even delete data remotely on stolen laptop if they cannot recover it. I use it on all my mobile devices (including cellphones) & recommend them to anyone. Check them out - in addition to the above tips.