Being able to use your computer on the go is a wonderful thing, but using a PC in public does increase the possibility of theft. While we shouldn't start imagining robbers on every street corner, there are a number of easy security measures that can be taken to minimise any risks.

Following these simple steps will help keep you, your laptop and your data safe and secure.

The Knowhow

Safety in mind:

  • Make sure your insurance covers your laptop for use outside of the home or business.
  • Take a note of any identifying information on your laptop; the serial number, make, model and any other identifying features.
  • Mark your laptop with an ultraviolet anti-theft pen to help identify it if it's stolen.
  • Only take your laptop with you when you have to.
  • Avoid using the laptop in public places, especially those known for higher crime rates.
  • Use a bag that isn't an obvious laptop case. For example, you can get backpack style bags that are designed to hold a laptop. Alternatively, use a slim-fitting laptop case and slip it inside another bag.
  • Be careful when putting your bag down. Never leave it behind you or in a place where a thief could snatch it without you noticing. If you have to put the bag down, hook a chair leg or your foot through the loop of the strap to stop someone running off with it.
  • Lock your laptop bag with a small padlock when travelling to deter sneak-thieves.
  • When carrying your laptop bag, try to keep it in front of you rather than behind you.
  • Keep your laptop and case out of sight if you leave it in a hotel room. Use the room safe if there is one.
  • Use a screen guard when typing in a public place to keep your private information secure.
  • Never leave your laptop alone in a public place, even for just a few moments.

If you feel that someone is watching or following you, be especially careful about keeping an eye on your laptop. Make sure you have a firm grip on it and wear the strap in such a way it will be hard to snatch. Move to a public place such as a coffee shop and avoid crowds where it would be easier for a thief to grab your device and flee. If you can, hail a taxi and leave the area. Contact the police if you feel very threatened.

Other precautions:

Ensure your laptop is password protected. For suggestions on creating strong passwords read our article Choosing a password - stronger is safer

Make regular backups of your laptop's hard drive. You can find out how to do this in our article Backing up your files and photos to a second hard drive

For deeper protection, add a password to the system BIOS. Read our article Using a BIOS password to stop intruders for more information.

There are a number of laptop security products you can purchase. Our guide What software and devices can you use to protect your device? will tell you more.

Using these suggestions will make your laptop much more secure and keep your data safer should the worst happen. Keeping a cool head and making sure you're always aware of your surroundings and your laptop is vital in preventing theft. If your laptop is ever stolen, read this article to find out what to do.

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Updated On:

Nov 27, 2013

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