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University of Houston-Victoria

Laptop and PDA Security

Laptop and PDA security involves reducing the risk of data and equipment loss due to accidents, unauthorized access, or theft. It is an often overlooked aspect of computer security as indicated by recent computer crime and security reports.

Since 2005, approximately 165 million data records of US residents were breached due to these threats, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

You may have already taken steps to secure the data on your laptop. You've installed firewall software. You've updated your anti-virus software and protected your information by creating a strong password. Moreover, you feel that you’re too smart to fall for those emails that ask for your personal information.

But what about securing the actual laptop?

All it takes is a minor distraction for your laptop to disappear. The result will be more than just the loss of an expensive piece of equipment.

By now you've probably heard stories on the news or from friends and colleagues about laptops being stolen. No one thinks theirs will be one of them – at least not until after they find the trunk of their car open, realize the laptop isn't coming through the other end of airport security, or return to their table and find the laptop isn't there.

If a thief steals your laptop or PDA, the most obvious loss is the device itself. However, if the thief is able to access the information on the computer or PDA, all of the information stored on the device is at risk, as well as any additional information that could be accessed as a result of the data stored on the device.

Sensitive corporate information or customer account information should not be accessed by unauthorized people. You've probably heard news stories about organizations panicking because laptops with confidential information on them have been lost or stolen. But even if there isn't any sensitive corporate information on your laptop or PDA, think of the other information at risk: information about appointments, passwords, email addresses and other contact information, personal information for online accounts, etc.

The most important step that you can take in preventing loss data and equipment loss is to secure your equipment. To do so, you must control access to your computers, laptops, external hard drives, CD-ROMs, flash drives, and other types of storage devices.

Security Risk

  • Social Engineering
  • Loss of personal or financial data
  • Infiltration of an organization's network
  • Posting incriminating information about yourself.

Best Practices

  • Avoid using names like PizzaLover or Madison_77204, which identify you and/or your location.
  • Do not post personal information about your friends.
  • Set privacy controls so that only approved friends can view your profile.
  • Before posting photos, make sure that they do not reveal information about your location.

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