Most of you probably own a laptop or netbook because of their great portability. Unfortunately the laptop is so portable that it can easily be stolen and the risk is much higher than, let’s say, a desktop system, if we consider that the thief will not have to break into your house in order to steal it. Taking advantage of the your inattention, the thief will make himself invisible with your laptop in seconds. So, it’s much easier to prevent than to detect the thief in the crowd.
The easiest way to avoid this kind of situations is to always keep contact (physical or visual) with valuables that you carry. If you don’t have a reliable person to keep an eye on your stuff, take your bag with you even when you go to the toilet. Nobody will take care of your laptop better than you!
Yet, if the laptop gets stolen, there are two things you need to worry about: track stolen laptop and the security of your data.
Track stolen laptop
If the police cannot find enough evidence (cameras, witnesses, etc.) on the spot, you have to hope that the thief will connect the laptop to the Internet. Each network card has a unique address called “MAC” which consists of 12 hexadecimals. Unfortunately few providers still use this address to identify the subscriber, so it might be a long shot.
A much reliable method is to find the thief’s location based on IP address. You would easily find the IP address if you had previously installed a program that sends data from your computer to a web server. The more data your program sends (IP, time, keystrokes, printscreens, webcam capture, etc.), the easier it will be to identify the thief.
Here are 2 of the best free programs:
- Prey is a free open-source project which sends the IP address, location map, webcam capture, etc.
- Lock it Tight locates, tracks, monitors and controls the stolen laptop. By logging in to your laptop you can find the location, you can make screenshots, you can capture video via webcam, you can transfer important files. The program also has a keylogger type of function. The free version has some limitations compared to the Standard Edition, Premium and Ultimate.
Security of your data
Also before your laptop gets stolen it is necessary to protect your data in various ways.
- Windows Password: a thief can boot from a Linux LiveCD and will have access to all your files on the hard disk. Also he may not be interested in your files and re-install another operating system. In both cases, the monitoring programs we described above become useless. So, it might be better to leave your laptop without a Windows Password in order to get the thief to use it as it.
- BIOS Password can be reset by removing the battery or using other hardware methods.
- Data Encryption: If you care more about someone not accessing your data than to get the data back, then you should use Data Encryption. You can also encrypt / protect only certain folders, not necessarily all your HDD data. Such programs can be easily found with a simple Google search.