Laptop security for students, faculty, and other members of the University community is of great concern to the University. To assist you, Information Technology Services (ITS) has developed recommendations to help you protect your property. We suggest that you implement all or several of them to keep your work and computer safe from theft.
- Treat your laptop as you would other portable valuables, like wallets, purses, backpacks, etc. Don't leave your laptop unattended. This is the best and most reliable way to avoid notebook theft.
- Consider obtaining insurance. Theft is usually part of renter's or homeowner's insurance. Check with your agent to make sure that your replacement cost will be covered. If you purchased the laptop with a credit card, you might check to see if the credit card policy covers it for theft or damage.
- Remember to immediately back up your work, either in a flash drive, on ANGEL, Google, or even email it to yourself. Thus, your work, including a paper, your notes, etc., are not lost in the event of a theft or damage.
- Purchase and use security cables. You can find them at Staples, any PC store, or online (see: www.stoptheft.com or www.computersecurity.com/laptop/cables_f.htm). A cable that visibly attaches your notebook to a piece of furniture will usually deter a theft. Note: these cables can be broken, with minor damage to the notebook. Thus, we also recommend tracking and encryption software.
- Install tracking software. Adeona (adeona.cs.washington.edu) is free, reliable software that will notify you if your notebook is stolen and then used to connect to the Internet. (It is somewhat similar to LoJack for automobiles.) Its drawback is that it may not lead to a specific geographic location in time and it can be disarmed if the hard drive is reformatted, which is a relatively simple operation for a computer-literate thief, except for a few programs like Retriever Security, at www.frontdoorsoftware.com, which uses Google Maps.
- Install encryption software to your laptop. TrueCrypt (www.truecrypt.org) is free and reliable, and will protect you from identity theft and violation of privacy if your notebook is stolen. This software can be deleted if your hard drive is reformatted.
We hope that you find these suggestions useful and that they keep your laptop safe. For other general tips about laptop security, please see Your First Notebook PC, chapter 18, at www.mysafaribooksonline.com.
If you have any questions, comments, or additional suggestions that will assist all of us, please contact ITS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students may also want to consider purchasing personal property insurance. Many policies will cover laptops, cell phones, textbooks, and other personal items against accidential loss or damage. To learn more, please see http://www.collegestudentinsurance.com/.