Top 9 ways to reduce laptop theft (especially while traveling)

52616IS640Since the first of the year, several organization laptop computers have been stolen, possibly subjecting Texas Children’s to breach sanctions for exposing Protected Health Information (PHI) and other sensitive data.

Like millions of others, Texas Children’s employees appreciate the convenience of using a laptop to work while away from the office or on the road. But the ubiquity of laptops has made portable systems a target for theft everywhere.

QuickLink: What do to if your laptop is stolen

If your laptop is stolen, company and patient information can be exposed, as well as personal and financial information. Use the security tips below to help keep your laptop a little more secure when you’re out of the office or on the road:

1. Avoid using computer bags
Carrying a computer bag is the equivalent of shouting out loud “I’m carrying a valuable laptop!” Instead, try toting your laptop in something more common like a padded briefcase or suitcase.

2. Never leave access numbers or passwords in your carrying case
Keeping your password with your laptop is like leaving the keys in the car. Without your password or important access numbers, it will be more difficult for a thief to access your personal and corporate information.

3. Carry your laptop with you
Always take your laptop on the plane or train rather than checking it with your luggage. It’s easy to lose luggage and it’s just as easy to lose your laptop. If you’re traveling by car, keep your laptop out of sight by locking it in the trunk.

4. Encrypt your data
If someone should steal your laptop, encryption provides another layer of protection. With most major computer operating systems (Windows or Mac), you can choose to encrypt files and folders. Then, even if someone gains access to an important file, they can’t decrypt it and see your information. Contact the IS Service Desk at Ext. 4-3512 (external 832-824-3512) for information on how to encrypt files on your Texas Children’s laptop.

5. Keep your eye on your laptop
When you go through airport security, don’t lose sight of your bag. Hold your bag until the person in front of you has gone through the metal detector. Many bags look alike and yours can easily get lost in the shuffle.

6. Avoid setting your laptop on the floor
Putting your laptop on the floor is an easy way to forget or lose track of it. If you have to set it down, try to place it between your feet or against your leg so you’re always aware it’s there.

7. Buy a laptop security device
If you need to leave your laptop in a room or at your desk, use a laptop security cable to make it more difficult for someone to take. Some programs can report the physical location of a stolen laptop when it is connected to the Internet.

8. Use a screen guard
These guards help prevent people from peeking over your shoulder as you work on sensitive information in a public place by obscuring the screen’s visibility except when directly in front. This is especially helpful when you’re traveling or need to work in a crowded area.

9. Don’t leave your laptop in your hotel room or with the front desk
Too many items have been “lost” in hotel rooms that might not be completely secure. Use the safe in the room if you have one. Otherwise, put the “do not disturb” sign on the door.