What do you fear the most when you travel with your laptop? Let me guess – it’s the fear of having your laptop stolen and your personal data compromised. Right?
Stories of laptops getting stolen at airports, restaurants, even from homes is nothing new. Hence you should have certain security measures in place to prevent your laptop from getting stolen, and if it does get stolen, to ensure that the data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. This is what we will talk about today. (Photo by raindog )
This article lists several software products, hardware tools, laptop tracking tools and services, and some security tips. Most of them are free. I’ve tried to include tools that work in all operating systems so Linux and Mac users should check this out too.
Following are some software that could prevent your laptop from getting stolen by playing alarm sounds, detecting motion, and if it does get stolen, help to keep your data secure.
LAlarm is a Windows-only laptop alarm security software that helps you set up various alarms in order to prevent laptop theft. It has theft alarm, perimeter alarm, inattention alarm, battery alarm, disk alarm, data destruction and recovery facility and much more. The configuration options are no doubt impressive. The tool is free for personal use.
2. Laptop Alarm
Laptop Alarm can alert you under three circumstances – your laptop’s power cable is unplugged, the mouse is removed or someone shuts it down.
It costs around $2.7 and works only on Windows computers.
LaptopLock is a data protection tool for your laptop that can safeguard your data and also delete it if you lose the laptop. In fact, it can also encrypt data, launch programs and do much more when your laptop is reported stolen on their site. For more on this, check out this guide by Lifehacker on securing your laptop with LaptopLock.
4. Encryption Tools like Truecrypt
Encrypting the data on your computer is always recommended. That way, if someone tries to hack in to your computer, he would only see gibberish and nothing else. You could use open-source tools like TrueCrypt (we previously published a detailed encrypting computer data with TrueCrypt guide) or the built-in Bitlocker that’s available in some Windows versions.
Yawcam, as the name indicates, is a webcam software that could turn your webcam into a motion-sensing tool which could then be used to keep an eye on people trying to access your laptop when you are not around. It also has options for automatic emailing and FTP uploading of images that it captures.
6. iAlertU for Mac
iAlertU is a laptop security software for Macbooks that can use the iSight camera to sense motion and raise alarms. The developer’s site seems to have been taken over by a domain squatter, so here’s the download link from download.com.
7. Lockdown for Mac
Lockdown is a free laptop security application for Mac that’s based on iAlertU mentioned above. It has a nicer interface and does everything that iAlertU does.
FireFound is a unique tool in this list because it isn’t a standalone software; it’s a Firefox add-on that lets you locate your laptop (or cellphone), if it’s stolen. You’d be required to reveal your location to this tool, and if your laptop is lost, you could use it to delete all your browser data remotely. Read more about it on Addictive Tips.
Now lets take about two hardware tools, which in my opinion, are more effective than software when it comes to preventing your laptop from getting stolen. Doesn’t mean you should ignore the aforementioned software but you should also get one of the below if you go out with your laptop, for extra protection.
9. Laptop Security Lock
A laptop security lock, as shown in the picture above, is a must-have tool for any laptop user. It’s cheap and you can find it any major computer shop. It’s particularly useful when you are working out of coffee shops or any other public place and need to leave your computer for sometime. I myself use this tool on a daily basis and have found it extremely useful. (Photo by Florian)
10. Nio Bluetooth Alarm
This is an interesting gadget which I came across sometime ago while watching a tech show on TV (can’t remember which one). Called nio, this is a bluetooth device that can trigger an alarm when your device breaches the specified area or zone. It can be used to protect laptops and various other devices/personal belongings.
Tracking Stolen Laptop
So far we’ve talked about different ways to prevent laptop theft and protecting your data in case it does unfortunately gets stolen. Lets now focus on a tool that can help you track your laptop’s location if you misplace it, and some other laptop security tips.
Prey is nifty software that’s multi-platform (has installers for Windows, Linux, Mac and Android), and provides a number of features to track your laptop or phone when it is lost. It uses GPS or auto-connects to a wireless connection when you send a signal remotely through SMS or internet, and then you could use it find your device’s location, lock it down or monitor the activities of the person using it.
12. Data Backup
Not mentioning data backup in such a list would be sin. 🙂 Yes, it’s common sense, but then why do data recovery tools and companies exist? Because most of us don’t backup our data regularly. Well, I’d recommend that you go through our data backup section and get started with a full-proof data backup process soon if you haven’t already.
13. BIOS Password
Setting up a BIOS password is something laptop users could consider as an extra security measure, because it’s not easy to bypass it on laptops (on desktops it’s a different story though). Here’s an article that mentions certain simple steps you need to follow to set up BIOS password. Just make sure that you don’t forget this password, once you set it up.
That concludes this list of laptop security software, tools and tips. Of course there might be many more great apps that I might have missed, so do share the tools you use and any other useful suggestions you might have on this topic in the comments.