SMB Data Alert: Notebook Thefts are on the rise

Monday, September 24, 2007
Posted by Brawlin Melgar

by John Beagle

SMB businesses should be on the alert, common thieves find notebooks easy prey because they are small, light and easy to handle. Anyone who takes their eye off a notebook in public, even briefly, may not see it again. 

The "dirty bastards" can be good at instantly taking advantage of a notebook owner's inattentiveness: The thief strikes while passing by, snapping up notebook computers in food courts at airports, desks in offices and unlocked automobiles. The 'stolen' notebooks are then converted into cash easily by using an Internet auction site.

"More important than protecting the notebook is protecting valuable and confidential company data," says Tony Cipollone, Tech Travel Agent

The theft of databases hurts companies more than the loss of the notebook, especially since company notebooks are often covered by insurance and databases are not.

If a thief gets control of corporate documents or passwords, these can lead to major damages. Users must therefore take steps before a theft occurs. This includes encrypting data on the hard drive or by only accessing company data via Terminal Services or Citrix remote desktop operating systems," Cipollone says.
IBM Laptop Computer With Fingerprint Scanner
"To prevent access to the notebook's data, users should also create additional Windows and BIOS passwords", Tony says. Experienced hackers can get around these, however, warns PC expert Cipollone.

An alternative for preventing unauthorized access is fingerprint scanners, says Wendt from Computer Service Now.

Photo: IBM Thinkpad notebook with Fingerprint Scanner

In the end, a combination of steps is the best. The latest theft protection devices for notebooks are now offered as PC expansion cards, containing a motion sensor and encryption software is a must.

Companies should record the notebook computer's serial number so that the police can make a positive identification in case of a theft recovery. Notebook computer owners can also make recovery of their noebooks easier engraving the company name in the plastic case of the notebook.

Best yet, don't ever leave your notebook unattended.