Paranoia Refresher – Laptop Theft

The weekend of the 7th of February I was at a security professionals conference. (Shmoocon) Yes it is a hacker convention, but it is a great place to learn about higher level security issues that affect people. It also refreshed my mind on some basic ideas of security. Many times the security talks that are presented are simply not useful for the average person. That being said it did raise the level of paranoia I have about computer security in general.

Another reminder that added to this was the theft of two different laptops. The laptop was left unattended for what ever reason and sprouted legs and walked away. The other reminder was from a parked car with a laptop in the back seat. A brick though the window and the laptop disappears.

I won’t go into the data security on this blog post but suffice it to say these were crimes of opportunity. It is extremely easy to have a laptop walk away in a crowded restaurant. So on to the security of laptops

If you have a laptop in your car, in a crowded parking lot, put the laptop in your trunk. As simple as that. If a thief can’t see the laptop it is harder to steal. In a restaurant, if you make your laptop even remotely difficult to steal it will be pushed to the bottom of the list to be stolen. In a crowded environment where you might get up to get coffee or use the restroom lock your laptop to the table. This does require a slight investment of anywhere from $8 (US) on up depending on how secure you want it (I will not go into the exceptionally simple methods shown in the lock pick village to defeat a lock). In the case of the person’s laptop being stolen in a restaurant, even the cheapest lock would have prevented this theft.

When a laptop is sitting on a table, no one will think twice about someone walking buy and grabbing it. If a bolt cutters, or even lock picks is brought out to cut a cable lock that will bring attention. A thief will avoid attention at all costs. There is a very important element to this scenario, LOCK the laptop don’t just make it look like it is.

I personally have not ever seen a laptop that does not have a locking port on the side of the laptop. So please use it!!

Summary:

Lock your physical laptop when leaving it in public

Do not leave your laptop in plain site in your car