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Security Tools - Protecting Your Laptop

This article provides tips on how to prevent theft or damage to your laptop, and advice on what to do should either occur.

Would you be lost without your laptop or tablet? When your computer plays a vital role in your everyday life at the University, it's a good idea to take some simple steps to keep it safe and functioning.

Protect Your Device

Laptops and tablets are convenient, reliable mobile devices, but easily damaged. You should avoid eating or drinking food around your laptop, as one crumb or drop of soda could send your computer to the repair shop. Laptops emit a lot of heat, so it's important to allow your machine to ventilate properly and not expose it to intense heat or sun for long periods of time. Just like you, your laptop may need to take a break. Instead of always using the hibernate option, make sure you shut down your computer completely on a regular basis.

Protect Your Data

Often, it is the loss of data from laptops rather than the loss of laptops themselves that causes the most problems. Back up your computer's hard drive to a separate device (such as a USB drive or external hard drive) or a file share (such as UChicago Box on a regular basis.

It is best never to store social security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and or passwords on your laptop, unless encrypted. As a security measure, you can encrypt files on your computer if they contain confidential information. Encrypted files can only be opened with an encryption key or password. See Laptop/Tablet Encryption for information about easy ways to encrypt your files. To check your computer for confidential information, you may run this free security tool, IdentityFinder.

Before discarding your laptop or tablet, be sure to wipe the data. You might consider using free disk-wiping software such as Darik's Boot and Nuke or Active@ Kill Disk. These are both available from

In the event of computer compromise or malfunction, you may need to reinstall your computer's operating system, so make sure to keep a copy of your system software or recovery CDs/DVDs in a safe place.

Protect Your Device Against Malware

Keeping your operating system and applications up to date, enabling your operating system firewall, and installing an anti-virus application are all crucial steps to maintaining the safety and health of your laptop or tablet. Computers are often infected with malware and viruses because the operating system or applications software are out of date. Be sure to set your computer to automatically look for updates on a weekly basis.

Avoid Theft and Abuse

Laptops and tablets are light, convenient and so easy to just leave sitting out while you run for coffee...but stop! Don't let that be the last time you ever see your laptop again. Password protect your laptop to discourage theft, and consider investing in one of the many physical laptop locks on the market.

The University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) offers the computer theft-deterrent program STOP tag. The STOP tag is a security plate and warning label that is attached to the computer. Ownership information is programmed onto the tag and entered into an international database, so that your device can be returned to you if found. There is a minimal fee for each tag requested. You may sign up for the program individually or in groups. Upon request, a representative can come to your area to do group tagging. To obtain services, email Officer Danielle Rios or call 773-702-6008.

Remember, you are the owner of your device and responsible for its safety and proper use. To avoid abuse, do not share your computer with people you do not trust and NEVER share your CNet password with others.

Keywords:safety, backup, encryption, theft, notebook, stolen, STOP_tag   Doc ID:16283
Owner:Rosa M.Group:University of Chicago
Created:2010-12-11 19:00 CDTUpdated:2017-04-11 14:09 CDT
Sites:University of Chicago, University of Chicago - Sandbox
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