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Laptop Security: Think Beyond The Dorm Room

September 8, 2009
Times Observer
There are more laptops on college campuses today than ever before. In fact, many universities require incoming freshmen to provide their own laptops. Students and professors use their laptops for work, communication, gaming, photos, music, movies and more. Losing a laptop no longer means just losing a hard drive, screen and a DVD burner. Losing a laptop now means losing your memories, hobbies and, most importantly, any confidential personal data that may be stored on it.

The recent downturn in the economy has created an increased temptation for laptop theft. According to a recent Ponemon survey, a laptop goes missing every 50 seconds. That number is likely to rise this year as a result of the recession. Absolute Software, a company specializing in computer theft recovery, data protection and asset tracking, is calling this the perfect storm for laptop theft, especially at colleges and universities. "The popularity of laptops on college campuses has increased over the past few years," says Lyle Singular, associate vice president of recovery services at Absolute Software. "The combination of increased availability, greater opportunity for theft on campuses, along with tighter consumer budgets due to the economy, has created the ideal environment for laptop theft."

According to a survey conducted by Absolute Software, dorm rooms and schools are among the top five places for laptop theft. And with the mobility of laptops, students are even more likely to use them in public places like coffee shops, libraries and in classrooms, further exposing them to theft.

College students should follow these tips to help them prevent laptop theft:

• When working in a public place, like a coffee shop or library, do not leave your laptop unattended. Either take it with you when you leave your table or lock it to a table or other fixed structure before leaving. Also, don't assume your laptop is safe in a classroom, even when you are in it. Take your laptop with you when you leave the classroom or get up from your desk to work on a group project.

• Leaving your laptop out on your dorm room desk is an invitation to thieves. Many dorm rooms have a constant flow of traffic going in and out, without anyone really paying attention to their belongings. Some students will even leave their doors open to run to the bathroom or down the hall. Always hide your laptop in a secure location and lock it when you are out of the room, even if it is for a short time.

• Even if you are discreet and constantly aware of your laptop's location, use a tracking and recovery program in case of theft. Software like Computrace LoJack for Laptops by Absolute Software is an easy and inexpensive solution to help recover stolen laptops. They even have a Theft Recovery Team staffed with former police officers to help the local police force track down your laptop and obtain search warrants. With a recovery rate of three out of every four laptops that call in stolen to Absolute, Computrace LoJack for Laptops offers added protection and peace of mind.

• Do not use the telltale laptop bag or sleeve. This is a giveaway to any thief that you are carrying a laptop. Instead, find a more discreet carrying case, like a tote bag or regular backpack.

• Never leave your laptop exposed in the backseat of your parked car, even if you are just running to class or dropping a book off in the library. Either bring it with you or discreetly lock it in your trunk. Many laptop thieves will not hesitate to break a window and quickly steal your laptop if they see it in your car.

• While waiting in a line or even in your seat in class, do not leave your laptop on the floor at your feet. It is very easy for someone to casually walk by and take it or reach down and grab it while you are concentrating in class.

• Personalize your computer with stickers or labels, especially if everyone at your school uses the same or similar models. This will make it easy for you to identify if someone is walking away with your laptop, even by accident.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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