My laptop is stolen!!! Needed to be more concerned about sensitive data.
Returned home from office and got informed that my laptop is stolen. It was so painful to hear that. Laptop means a lot to software professional. I heard few calling laptop as their 2nd wife! Apart from it when laptop is lost, my entire data library is lost. I started to think what if I would have taken some precautions! No one can guarantee that laptop can never be lost or stolen, so why not follow some guidelines to secure the data and also to keep an option open to get the laptop back.
Returned home from office and got informed that my laptop is stolen. It was so painful to hear that. Laptop means a lot to software professional. I heard few calling laptop as their 2nd wife! Apart from it when laptop is lost, my entire data library is lost.
I started to think what if I would have taken some precautions! No one can guarantee that laptop can never be lost or stolen, so why not follow some guidelines to secure the data and also to keep an option open to get the laptop back. I spent a bit of time and did some googling and thought of writing this article.
Let's see how we can make a move to secure our data in laptop.
1. Back up data
It's always smart to back up the important/sensitive data. There is lots of online storage. We can surely go for some free services and store our data over there. We feel lazy sometimes to do so but trust me when you will face such disaster then the first thing comes in your mind "How fool am I!!! Why dint I back up my data to some secure storage? My God, where will I get my data now?"
So let's back up important data at a regular interval and we have to do it for our own benefit. We have Dropbox, Skydrive and so many free storage services, pick any and start backing up data.
You can go to this link to start using Skydrive: www.skydrive.live.com
2. Use a strong password
The first thing the thief will do is trying to turn on the laptop. Sometimes we don't care of setting a windows password as we have the assumption that - "C'mon it's my laptop and no one dares to use it Or I don't have any personal data so doesn't matter Or we are just lazy of doing it" but it's a must to use a strong password.
The laptop should be configured so that the password has to be entered every time you turn the machine on or when it comes out of hibernation, sleep or screensaver mode. An account password is an effective first line of defense, but only if you avoid choosing a commonly used - and therefore easily guessed - password. An analysis of passwords stolen from websites during recent security incidents reveals that the most common include "password", "123456", "abc123", "qwerty" and, bizarrely, "monkey".
3. Disable boot from DVD/USB
Let's assume that we have used a strong password but as we know it can easily be removed if windows is re-installed! There are some other ways of removing this user setting!It's easy to change or remove an account password using a free resetting program such as pogostick, or to guess a short one using a "bruteforce guessing" program such as Ophcrack.
But windows installation and 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)
4. Protecting BIOS
Now don't forget to set a password for BIOS or else Mr. Thief can reset the settings. 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.
5. Encrypt your hard drive
What I found that a smart thief can override all these security steps and get access of your data if he/she (Why to blame male always!!!) wants. So let's find a best way to secure data. Encrypting hard drive can be a very good way of securing data.
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 this 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.
The Ultimate and Business editions of Windows 7 and Vista come with BitLocker, a tool that lets you encrypt your entire hard drive. If you don't have the Ultimate or Business version, another alternative is to use TrueCrypt, a free, open-source tool that can encrypt your entire disk.
6. Track your laptop – Install Tracking software
Being software professional why don't we install some tracking softwares in our laptop and use it whenever it's necessary. Each time the computer connects to the Internet, it reports. Some tracking software includes the ability to remotely delete information from the laptop as well. This feature can be a life saver if a laptop with sensitive information is stolen. With this capability, you'll be able to delete potentially sensitive information before it falls into the wrong hands.
I was roaming on web and found 'Prey'. It can be very helpful tracking software. Prey attempts to hook onto the nearest open Wi-Fi hotspot when no Internet connection is found. It also takes picture of the thief with your device's webcam.
Here is the link: www.preyproject.com/
You can also use a service like Gmail or Dropbox to find the IP address of your thief. When you log into those services from any computer, it logs the IP address used, and displays your last used IP in your account
Please don't forget to keep a note of important information of your laptop like Serial No, Model Number etc. When your laptop is lost don't delay to apply for a GD in nearest police station.