by Connie Sadler, Director of IT Security, CIS
Don't Find Yourself a Victim of Laptop Theft!
Brown is like many other campuses – open and trusting. Collaborative work is varied and research and study areas are in use 24 x 7. Individuals in the community sometimes prey on that openness and trust and wander our facilities looking for devices that can be quickly and easily exchanged for cash. There are thousands of laptops on campus and it’s important that users understand risks and how to protect hardware, software and data.
Laptop risk includes all of the usual threats – viruses, worms, spyware, etc., but these computers are also easy to steal. Most laptop thefts on campus today occur because they are left in unattended offices, labs or dorm rooms. Sometimes they are stolen during a lunch break or from offices and dorm rooms where the doors were closed but not locked. Therefore, the best way to prevent laptop theft is to make sure the systems are not left unattended where unauthorized personnel may have access.
Security cables can be purchased from the Brown Computer Store for individuals who need to leave laptops unattended for short periods of time.
Some thefts occur because travelers leave their laptops in hotel rooms. If you must leave your computer in a hotel room, use security cables and ensure that the laptop cannot be easily seen by anyone who may enter the room in your absence. Keep it in a locked suitcase with a cable around a bedframe or other piece of furniture that cannot be moved. Think about making it more difficult for someone who is looking for easy "pickings".
Never leave your laptop in an automobile. If you must, do not leave it visible in any way – and never leave sensitive or confidential information on an unprotected laptop. To do so is considered negligent by today’s standards, and individuals who are negligent can be sued. Individual liability will continue to increase as personal injury and identity theft continue to rise.
Brown is piloting software from CyberAngel Security Solutions, that once installed on any Windows PC, acts in a "lo-jack" capacity – software that "phones home" when the laptop is stolen. CyberAngel can recover close to 85% of the laptops that are stolen. CyberAngel's other advantage is its ability to protect confidential or sensitive information by providing a protected drive on the laptop – fully encrypted. The CyberAngel® is now available through the Brown Computer Store. Announcements will be made via Morning Mail with full purchasing details.
- Do NOT store sensitive or confidential data on a laptop unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.
- If you do use your laptop to house sensitive information, never leave it unattended or attached to a home network.
- Make sure you back up data regularly.
- Adhere to the IT Security "Golden Rule": Treat personal data of others as you would want them to treat your personal data. If you have been entrusted with personnel data, student data, medical data, financial data, critical research data, etc., treat it like gold.
If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact IT Security at Brown (ITSecurity@Brown.edu).