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How to safeguard your laptop against digital and physical theft

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Hundreds of millions of dollars are lost each year due to laptop theft. However, it’s not just the actual theft of the device that leads to such massive financial loss, it’s the data breaches that stem from those thefts which are the real problem. 

Laptops can be stolen from anywhere. Whether it’s from the workplace (which is very common), the library (if you’re a student), or from your car (if you’re a commuter), laptops are stolen about once every single minute in the US.

What would happen if your laptop was stolen? Do you have the necessary risk mitigation strategies in place to protect your data from being compromised? What about physical security? Are you doing everything you can to physically secure your laptop from being stolen? 

These are all questions that you need to be seriously considering (especially if you work for an organization’s IT department, or you travel a lot, etc.). Laptop theft is typically a crime, however, it can happen at any time (and in the case of businesses – it’s often targeted, sometimes for the purpose of breaching an organization’s digital security measures). 

Looking to learn how to enhance your laptop’s physical security? What about some of the best options in regard to digital security (i.e. encryption, app permissions, etc.)? Below are some of the best tips and strategies to employ that will make your laptop much more difficult for thieves and hackers to get their hands on. 

Physical security: Overlooked and underutilized 

There are two important reasons why you should consider getting a universal cable lock for your laptop: physical security (i.e. preventing it from being stolen) and digital security (i.e. preventing the data stored on it from being used maliciously).

How does digital security relate to physical security? Well, consider the fact that most laptop theft ends in a data breach (either on a personal level or an organizational one), and you might start to realize the importance of physical security. 

Using a cable lock system is the best method of physically securing your laptop. These lock systems work much in the same way as bicycle locks. They attach to the laptop and then use a cable to attach to something else (effectively anchoring it in place). 

One of the strongest deterrents of theft is having a strong physical security implementation (i.e. making your laptop hard to steal). While organizations might benefit from utilizing cable lock systems on their company-owned devices, normal people should also place an emphasis on securing their devices as well. Using a cable lock is a simple, effective, and affordable way to make sure that your laptop is as hard a target as possible. 

Digital Security for increased protection 

Digital security is inherently related to physical security. In order to effectively protect your device from hackers (and thieves), you need to have a protection strategy that integrates both forms of security into one cohesive plan.

You can have the best physical security in the world, but if you don’t have an equally robust digital security strategy, that won’t matter too much. When a hacker from Ukraine gets into your laptop (or company database) within a few minutes of basic cracking work. 

Encryption should be required

The lack of encryption across both personal and organization-owned devices is simply astounding. Do you know what would happen if a hacker was able to gain access to your system (and the drive wasn’t encrypted)? They would be able to easily steal all of your personal data. 

That’s why properly encrypting your hard-drive (and its individual files) is absolutely essential for increasing the security of your devices. If you aren’t doing so already, you really need to start practicing proper encryption practices – whether you’re a college student or an IT manager for a Fortune 500 company. 

Other basic digital security tips

While some of these might seem a bit more basic compared to encryption, they’re just as relevant (especially if you’re not currently doing everything you can to protect your laptop from hackers/thieves). Here are some other basic ways to protect your devices:

  • Use very strong passwords and change them often
  • Servers, workstations, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. should all be encrypted
  • Make sure that you’re using as much physical security as possible (i.e. cable locks)
  • Data should be regularly backed up to external sources (e.g. cloud-based services, external drives, etc.)


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