Protecting Your Laptop
The laptop computer has to be one of the greatest inventions ever. It has all the functionality of your desktop with the added ability to detect wireless networks wherever a friendly signal may be. Over time, this portable computer literally becomes a part of you, reflected by the vast amount of personal information you store on it, from family photos and music, to client data and tax returns. While saving all of this information on your computer makes things much easier for you, it also makes it easily retrievable to the knowledgeable computer thief.
Although a laptop isn't as susceptible to theft or damage as something like a USB flash drive, it can be stolen and compromised just like a traditional desktop. The fact that it's equipped with wireless capability makes it even more of a target. If your data or the device itself happens to fall into the wrong hands, you will then have a whole new set of troubles to worry about. The good thing is that there are a few simple steps that will help to protect your laptop when you're on the go.
Lock Down Your Laptop
You probably already know that leaving your precious laptop unintended isn't a wise move, but it would not hurt to physically lock it down either. While it might sound extreme, there are numerous security mechanisms such as the Targus DEFCON cable that allows you to literally bolt down your portable computer. This is a great option when you're in an environment with a bunch of strangers, making it far more difficult for a thief to walk off with it.
Backup Your Data
More consumers are making a habit of storing irreplaceable items on their laptop. This includes the only copy of photos, important term papers and financial documents. If this information must reside on your portable computer, make sure it is also stored on some type of removable media. External hard drives and flash drives are inexpensive and can be easily connected to a USB or Firewire port. There are also software applications such as Yosemite Filekeeper that will automatically copy any new files on your laptop, setting them up for transfer. If someone happens to get a hold of the device, you can use the external drive to reload the files on a new computer.
Invest in an Encryption Mechanism
If someone happens to bypass the physical security and obtain your laptop, encryption is the technology that will keep your stolen data secure. Upon trying to access the information, all the thief will get is a scrambled, unreadable version. There are many capable programs out there from the TrueCrypt open source solution to alternatives such as the FileVault application integrated on Mac OS X. You can also invest into a hardware-based encryption product, which is actually a more efficient way to protect the data transferred from your laptop.
Last but not least, always make sure your laptop is protected by a strong password. It should be at least eight characters with a healthy mix of numbers and letters. Anything that is simple enough for you to remember is probably child's play for the tech-savvy criminal.