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Thieves Want your Computer, Laptop and your Data

Thieves Want Your Laptop Data by John Beagle

Thieves find laptops easy prey because they are small, light and easy to handle. Anyone who takes their eye off a laptop in public, even briefly, may not see it again.

While special theft protection devices are offered for mobile computers, experienced thieves often view this as little more than an annoyance. In the end, the loss of the hardware is only part of the problem. It's when sensitive data resides on the laptop that real problems begin.

Common thieves can be good at instantly taking advantage of a laptop owner's inattentiveness: The thief strikes while passing by, snapping up laptops in a airport food courts, desks in offices or unlocked automobiles. The 'hot' laptops are then converted into cash easily by using an internet auction site like eBay.

"One in ten laptops gets stolen," according to Bill Schiering, of Camera Security Now, which sells security camera systems.

Laptop owners can be protected with an inexpensive internet based camera system, says Schiering. The object search feature helps find the thief fast. For more information on security camera object search feature visit: CCTV Video Surveillance Object Search 

"Security Camera systems are likely at best to scare off the common garden variety thieves," says PC expert Andrew Wendt from the Computer Service Now.

"More important than protecting the laptop is protecting sensitive company data," says Anthony Cipollone, Tech Travel Agent for Rentacomputer.com, a nationwide computer rental firm. The theft of databases hurts companies more than the loss of the laptop, especially since company laptops are often covered by insurance and databases are not.

If a thief gets control of company documents or sensitive access codes, these can lead to greater damages. Users must therefore take steps before a theft occurs. This includes encrypting data on the hard drive or by only accessing company data via Terminal Services or Citrix remote desktop operating systems," Cipollone says.

To prevent access to the laptop's data, users should also create additional Windows and BIOS passwords, Wendt says. Experienced hackers can get around these, however, warns PC expert Cipollone. An alternative for preventing unauthorized access is fingerprint scanners, says Wendt from Computer Service Now.

In the end, a combination of steps is the best, Wendt advises. The latest theft protection devices for laptops are now offered as PC expansion cards, containing a motion sensor and encryption software is a must.

Companies should record the laptop's serial number so that the police can make a positive identification in case of a theft recovery. Laptop owners can also make recovery of their laptops easier engraving the company name in the plastic case of the laptop.

There one more, even simpler trick for keeping thieves at bay. Use a small suitcase instead of a classic laptop bag for transporting the laptop. The surest way to keep a thief away from stealing your company laptop is not make it obvious you have a laptop computer.
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