According to the FBI, there were 221,009 laptops reported stolen from 2008 through 2009. As an increasing number of business people are traveling with laptops in tow each year, this already high number is likely to keep rising. Statistics show that the most popular targets for laptop thieves are office buildings, airports, hotel rooms and cars.
Although some laptop snatchers are simply looking to make a quick buck by selling your computer, others are much more malicious. These higher-level laptop thieves are more interested in the valuable information stored within your computer-from business plans and customer contact information to Social Security numbers and passwords. Once they get a hold of your laptop, these cyber criminals might be able to gain access to your company’s server. One FBI study found that 57% of computer crimes were linked to stolen laptops. Plus, research suggests that the theft of just one laptop can cost a company up to $90,000 or more!
Unfortunately, many laptop owners forget just how much their computer and personal information is worth — and how much they stand to lose if their computer is stolen. That’s precisely why experts say you should guard your laptop as closely as you would your wallet.
Here are a few steps you can take to protect your laptop from these spiteful computer crooks:
Travel incognito. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, be sure to carry your laptop in a protective, inconspicuous case. With thousands of laptop case styles available, you should be able to find one that looks more like a backpack, handbag, or briefcase — which decreases your risk of being targeted by a laptop thief.
Use protective software. Take advantage of password protection programs, anti-virus software, encryption software and other robust programs that will protect the information stored on your laptop.
Keep unused laptops out-of-sight. If your company has extra, unassigned laptops, keep them locked safely away in fully enclosed, secure closets. Never leave them in a cubicle or unlocked cabinet.
Lock it up. Never leave your laptop out in your office, even if you’re just leaving for a few minutes. Either lock it into your docking station or lock it away in a secure desk drawer. Don’t ever leave your laptop in plain view next to an office, house or car window.
Guard it in the airport. When traveling through an airport, be sure to keep your laptop within reach and in sight all the time. Never check a laptop with your baggage, and be extremely careful when you’re passing through security checkpoints. Hold onto your laptop as you wait in the security line, and do not set it on the belt until you’re getting ready to pass through the X-ray machine.
Protect it in the car. If you have to leave your laptop in the car, lock it up in the trunk where it’s out of view. If you drive a truck or SUV with a window looking into the trunk, lock it in your glove box or conceal it under a seat. You should also keep your laptop in a weatherproof case. Avoid storing your laptop in the car in extremely hot or cold temperatures.
Keep track of it. Make sure your name or company’s name and ID is engraved on your laptop. Also, be sure to write down your laptop’s identification number and store it in a safe place. Ask the laptop manufacturer or your local police department if they offer an asset identification or registry program.