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How to stop your laptop being stolen

Smart ways to protect your valuables

In a bid to minimise the risk of theft of laptops, iphones and other valuable IT equipment, Becky Warring looks at the best software and services to keep burgalars at bay.

Educate yourself and your employees

The human factor in laptop security may be the most important one, and it is certainly the easiest to overlook. Most laptops are accidentally abandoned, not purloined, and even instances of actual theft usually amount to crimes of opportunity. Physical security is the single best way to prevent loss.

Businesses should develop a written company policy on safeguarding mobile equipment, and periodically reinforce awareness of the consequences of laptop theft. Whether its a company or personal laptop, you need to realise that along with your laptop, you will also lose personal web passwords, emails, any work not backed up, and whatever else they might have stowed in the laptop bag - such as keys, USB flash drives and company papers.

Workers should also be reminded about the importance of taking personal responsibility for company property, and review the consequences of noncompliance. Periodic spot-checks ensure that people are adhering to company guidelines. The need to use backup and encryption software should also be emphasied. In all of these security systems, the user is the weak link.

Finally carry an unobtrusive bag that doesn't scream 'laptop inside'. Messenger bags, knapsacks and rolling overnighters with inner pockets all make good alternatives to dedicated laptop bags. You may also want to invest in an alarm. The Belkin USB Laptop Security Alarm functions in the same way as cable locks but also sounds an alarm if someone cuts the cable.

A little preparation can go a long way toward preventing laptop theft, and toward recovering a machine after it's lost. For less than £100 per machine, you can add tags, tracking software, and locking systems that may save you many times that amount.

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