Physically Guard Your Laptop, Tablet or Smartphone

SecurityTip: Keep your laptop, tablet and/or smartphone in your possession at all times.

  1. Treat your devices like you would a wallet or purse containing a lot of money and personal information.
    Your devices are equally or more valuable than your wallet or purse, which you wouldn’t think of leaving unattended. Your laptop, tablet or smartphone may contain passwords, access codes, and auto-login scripts to your own or university accounts. Loss of your device’s contents may cost you or the university much more than its retail value if your identity and confidential, personal, and/or proprietary information is stolen, or if our campus computing resources are breached. Just as important, your device case may contain other important information and storage devices, such as cell phone; cds; dvds; personal information (e.g., Social Security Number); other passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), and access codes. In the wrong hands, access to all this information could be devastating to you and/or the university. If thieves do not find the identity information they are seeking, they will most likely discard or sell the device, continuing its vulnerability to unauthorized access.
  2. If allowed, put a distinctive marking on your device.
    Apply a marking to your device that will distinguish it from others (e.g., paint, a decal, or an etching). [Note: If this is university equipment, obtain permission from your department to apply a professional looking marking. If the device is leased or financed, it cannot be marked in any way.]
  3. Never leave your devices unattended, even for a few seconds.
    Do not leave your device on your chair, a table, shelf, car seat, store counter, restaurant table. When sitting in the bus, plane, taxi, or train, or restaurant, never leave your laptop, tablet or smartphone on the seat beside or behind you. Keep it on your lap or on the floor between your feet. Remember, consider your laptop, tablet or smartphone like your wallet or purse – don’t leave it unattended for any reason. Otherwise it may not be there when you get back! If you must set your device down, put it in front of you between your feet. Never put it down out of sight. If you can’t have the device in your possession, lock it in a safe place until your return.
  4. Never ask others, especially strangers, to watch your laptop, tablet or smartphone for you.
    You are responsible for your device. No one else will have the same appreciation or responsibility for safeguarding it as you do.
  5. Disguise your device’s carrying case.
    Thieves are on the lookout from standard carrying cases.  Therefore, store your device in a case that doesn’t look like a typical one. Use an old book bag or ordinary luggage – something that is inconspicuous. Do not use a case with your device’s, company’s, or institution’s name or logo on it. Do not use luggage tags where your name and address or company’s name and address are visible. If you must use a luggage tag, use one with a flap that covers up your identifying information.
  6. Carry your device in a case with a strap worn diagonally across your body, with the laptop or tablet placed in front of your body.
    If you carry your laptop or tablet behind you, thieves can unzip or unbuckle the case and take off with your device before you realize it’s gone.
  7. Lock your equipment in the car trunk.
    Never leave your laptop, tablet or smartphone visible in your car. Keep it out of sight at all times. Make sure no one is watching as you lock your laptop, tablet or smartphone in the trunk. Be careful not to lock your equipment in your car on extremely hot or cold days. When driving, keep your laptop or tablet on the floor – not on a seat where it could fall to the floor if you make a sudden stop, or where someone could easily smash a window and grab it while you are stopped at a light. Always remember to lock your car! Never leave your device in an unlocked car, even if it is in your own garage or driveway. Consider using a device or safe that makes stealing a laptop, tablet or smartphone more difficult.
  8. Do not leave your device unattended in your office.
    Because of relatively easy access, the office is a high risk location for theft. Even if your laptop is in a docking port, secure it to your desk with a separate laptop cable locking device, preferably one with an alarm. When you are finished using your laptop or tablet for the day, lock it in a file cabinet or desk drawer. Take care that only authorized persons have access to your work area – and keep unauthorized persons out.
  9. Do not place your laptop, tablet or smartphone near an exterior window.
    Do not place your laptop, tablet or smartphone where thieves can easily break a window and take off with your computer.
  10. Place your laptop or tablet on safe, stable surfaces.
    Do not place your laptop or tablet where it could fall or be run over.
  11. Use your laptop or tablet at room temperature.
    never use your laptop or tablet immediately after bringing it in from a cold car to a warm room. Allow your computer to warm up to room temperature for several minutes before using it to avoid condensation on metal parts.

Other Security Tips

Select the links below for tips on securing your devices.

  1. Implement Security Measures on Laptops, Tablets or Smartphones
  2. Safeguard Laptop and Tablet Contents
  3. Secure the Wireless Laptop or Tablet Connection
  4. Secure the Laptop, Tablet or Smartphone When Traveling
  5. Report Laptop Damage, Loss, Theft, and Security Breaches

For more information:

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