Laptop theft is becoming increasingly common, which should concern you if you own one. FBI statistics say that 97 percent of stolen computers will never be recovered. Statistics also report that 1,600 laptops are stolen daily in the United States alone.
Today, we can safely assume the number to have increased greatly. If you own a laptop, chances are 1 in 10 that your laptop will be stolen.
The hardest thing to swallow about the theft of a laptop is always the loss of the data it contains. Family pictures, music libraries, and, of course, sensitive documents all vanish in the blink of an eye. Most laptop users also have their passwords saved on the laptops, so it's easy enough for the thieves to hack into accounts and gather enough material to commit other crimes, such as identity theft.
If we look at the theft of laptops belonging to large corporations, the fallout of the loss of a laptop can be extremely difficult to contain. Organizations lose several thousand dollars, at the very least, every time a laptop belonging to one of their employees is stolen. In 2004, Software Insurance claimed that over 600,000 laptops had been stolen, which caused a hardware loss amounting to $720 million and information losses estimated at $5.4 billion. Clearly, the loss of the hardware does not hurt as much as the loss of the data on the laptop.
Protecting Yourself against Laptop Theft
The only way to guarantee that your laptop won't be stolen is to keep your eye on it all the time. Of course that's not always possible. Luckily, there are several ways in which you can reduce the chances of your laptop being stolen and protect your data from being compromised.
To protect your laptop from being stolen, you can use either an alarm or chains to keep it attached to something immobile. Since a large number of laptops are stolen by thieves breaking into offices, you can prevent yours from being stolen by keeping it attached to something solid and immovable. Alarms can alert you or a security guard in the event someone tries to steal your laptop by breaking the lock.
Unfortunately, there are no foolproof ways to protect your data, as a determined attacker will eventually get in no matter the levels of encryption or password protections you use. But you can use a combination of biometric scanners, tracking software, data encryption, BIOS passwords, drive locks, and OS passwords to make it as difficult as possible for a thief to steal your data.
Laptop tracking software will help you recover your laptop only if the thief isn't smart and connects to the Internet. Full Disk Encryption is a popular approach to protecting data. It is inexpensive and easy to maintain, but, like other methods, can be cracked.
In the end, it's best to be realistic and prevent the theft of your laptop from ever happening, since it's statistically improbable that you'll be among the 3 percent who have recovered their computers after a theft.
This article was written by Keith Cooper, a blogger, tech-enthusiast, and marketing manager. For more tips on laptop safety, Keith suggests researching protection software and products, like Kensington for example.