Computer keyboard security concept © Christian Delbert – Fotolia

It’s now officially Spring and everyone is itching to do some traveling.  Whether your travel is for business or pleasure – or both, most of us wouldn’t think of leaving our computers behind.  So we have some tips for safely traveling with your computer along with a few ideas for keeping your computer safe at home or in the office

Travel Tips

Never send your laptop in checked luggage. Carry it on with you, and keep an eye on it at airport security.

Make your laptop bag unique and easily identifiable. Choose a distinctive bag for your laptop or decorate your current bag with distinctive paint or stickers.

Disguise your computer case.  A case designed for computers is a clear signal to thieves that you are carrying a laptop.  Choose a bag that doesn’t look like a computer case.

Use a virtual private network (VPN). Publicly accessible networks, such as those offered in airports, conference centers and hotel rooms, present a particular security risk to laptop users. Hackers can connect to the same networks and eavesdrop on emails or copy passwords as they pass over the network.  The best way to protect your data from interception by other network users is to encrypt it while it is in transit between your computer and your office network, using a VPN.

Use secure email.  Sometimes it can prove difficult to get a VPN connection working, so it's prudent to ensure that any email program, webmail system or cloud based email service that you use is configured to use a secure sockets layer (SSL) or transport layer security (TLS). This ensures that both your username and password, and the contents of your emails, are encrypted as they travel across the internet.

Webmail services like Gmail and cloud based services like Microsoft's Office 365 are configured in this way by default, but email offered by many internet service providers is not.

In the Office

Take your laptop with you. If you step out of a meeting or conference room, take your laptop with you – or it may not be there when you return.

Back up your information regularly and keep the information stored in a safe place.

Don’t let unaccompanied strangers wander around your workplace. Offer assistance and escort visitors to their destinations.

Parking garages are common theft locations. Cover your laptop to hide it from view or place it in the trunk.

Good General Stuff

Disable booting from CD or USB.  It's easy to change or remove an account password using a free resetting program or to guess a short one using a "brute force guessing" program.

But running these involves booting the computer from a CD or USB stick, so you can increase security by disabling the ability to boot from one of these devices. This can be done by altering the settings in your laptop's basic input/output system (BIOS) – the built-in software with generic code to control the machine – which can usually be accessed by pressing F1, F4, F10 or Del just after you switch it on.

To ensure that no-one can override these settings, password-protect the BIOS so that no more changes can be made to it without entering the password. This can also be configured in the BIOS settings.

Encrypt your hard drive.  If your laptop is stolen from your car or hotel room there is usually nothing to stop the thief from removing your hard drive and attaching it to another computer. Doing this bypasses any account password protection and allows them to access your data easily.

The best way to prevent access is to encrypt your laptop's hard drives. Encrypted drives can only be accessed after the encryption key is supplied - usually in the form of a PIN, a password or by inserting a USB stick containing the key.

Keep your USB sticks secureIf you carry a USB memory stick to make backups of your work or store other data, it's important to make sure that it is as secure as the data on your laptop.

Avoid automatic log-ins. They may be easier, but if your laptop is ever stolen, your information is all the more vulnerable.

We have compiled our tips for this article from 10 Steps You Can Take to Secure a Laptop, by Paul Rubens at Techradar.pro and 10 Tips to Safeguard Laptop Data from The Hartford. 

We wish you safe and memory-making travels.  We are here to answer your questions, assist you in selecting the insurance that’s right for you, and to smooth the way for filing your claims.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  ContactUs.