Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lock Down That Laptop All the Time

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lock Down That Laptop All the Time

Article excerpt

Byline: Ed Stansel, Times-Union staff writer

Laptop computers have a tendency to walk away when you're not watching.

They're tempting targets for thieves, and not just for their resale value. Think of all the sensitive information you might have on your computer -- tax records, account numbers, passwords, PINs and Social Security numbers. Not to mention love letters or uncomplimentary e-mail about your boss.

A thief who gets hold of your laptop might be able to steal your identity, your money and your employer's secrets.

Veteran business travelers have learned to keep a death grip on their laptops. Even when going through airport security, they watch their computer bags at all times -- which can be difficult when you're asked to remove your socks.

A variety of companies offer hardware and software products aimed at keeping your laptop safe from thieves, or helping you recover it if it is stolen.

These products range from the simple -- locking cables that plug into the security slot on laptops -- to the high-tech, such as costly biometric devices that scan your fingerprint.

One of the latest entries in this market is Caveo Anti-Theft. This $99 PC card from Caveo Technology (www.caveo.com) has a built-in motion detector that senses when the laptop has traveled beyond a distance set by the user. The card triggers an alarm and then locks up the operating system and encrypts sensitive data.

Even if the card is ejected from your laptop, the computer will remain inaccessible to thieves. Users can adjust the settings to avoid false alarms, or switch off the motion sensor when they're in a car or on a plane. Caveo Anti-Theft is for Windows machines.

On the software end, Brigadoon Software (www.brigadoonsoftware.com) has just released PC PhoneHome, a program that runs invisibly on Windows PCs and Macs. Each time the computer connects to the Internet, it sends a "stealth" e-mail to any address you choose, listing the IP (or Internet protocol) address of the computer, the time the computer logged on, the serial number of the machine and other information that could be helpful to law enforcement agencies. …

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