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Securing Your Laptop on the Road

Seven Tips for Traveling with a Laptop PC

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If you lose a laptop pc, you could be out much more than the money you'll spend to replace the hardware. You may give away sensitive company information and a free ticket into your network. Here are seven things that you can do to keep your traveling computers secure.

Use a Cable Lock

Because a laptop pc is easy for you to carry, it's also easy for a thief to carry away. A good cable lock can help protect your computer when it is left unattended at your desk. Locks are also an excellent theft deterrent at trade shows and meetings. It's very easy for an unsecured laptop to disappear into a crowd while you are distracted. Check out our reviews of the best cable locks here.

Don't Use a Laptop Case

A laptop case only advertises the fact that you are carrying a valuable computer. Try using a padded sleeve in your briefcase, or a backpack with a laptop compartment. The less attention you invite, the better.

Keep Your Eyes Open at Checkpoints

When your laptop trundles down the conveyor belt at airport security, surrounded by shoes and overnight bags, it's easy to lose sight of. Stay focused on your laptop's location as you move through the line and pick it up as soon as it emerges from the scanner. I learned this the hard way on a trip from Virginia to Texas. Leaving security, I grabbed what I thought was my laptop and headed for the gate. Later I realized that someone had already taken my computer and left their very similar model behind.

Back Up Data

The only thing worse than losing sensitive data, is losing the only copy of sensitive data. Make sure that your files are backed up - either to your network, or to external media such as a thumb drive - to avoid a total loss.

Practice Good Password Hygiene

Treat your password like your toothbrush - never share it, and replace it often. It's a pain, but frequent password changes do keep you more secure. A good habit to cultivate is that of refreshing your passwords every four to six months. Two bad habits that you need to kick are letting websites remember your passwords and leaving them on slips of paper in your laptop bag or briefcase.

Use Two Factor Authentication

Adding a fingerprint reader in addition to your password gives you and extra layer of protection when you log on. Good security - whether physical or IT - is all about layers. No policy or device will be strong enough to protect you on its own, but every new layer adds strength and toughness to your security plan.

Choose Your Hot Spots Carefully

Not all WiFi connections are equally secure. It may be possible for a clever hacker to read all of your work - including passwords and account numbers - as you sip your coffee and type. For more information on hot spot security, read Using Your Laptop at Starbucks.
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