Protect Laptops, Mobile Devices & Flash Drives

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Protecting your laptop, small mobile devices, and your even smaller thumbdrives / smart cards / memory sticks from theft is much easier than trying to recover any of them later. A few simple steps can save you lost files, time, maybe even your identity or job.


  • Keep it close. It's always best to keep your laptop within reach and your small devices in a safe place right on your person whenever possible.
  • Lock it down. Secure your laptop with a cable lock, which you can find at the Brown Technology Center as well as online. For serious lock-downs, visit Tryten Technologies, offering a variety of strategies to secure your laptops as well as desktops, tablets and external drives (including laptop lockers).
  • Have an alarm? Turn it on! Motion detectors/alarms, such as Laptop Defender, start at around $30.
  • Lock your room when you leave to protect your valuables, even if it's for a short time.
  • For more tips, read the "Laptop Disappearing Act".
  • Secure your flash drive. Encrypt its contents. You can purchase Data Traveler Vaults from Kingston, as an example.
  • Be safe when traveling. Is your laptop ready for wireless in the wild? Review Prepare Your Laptop for Traveling before you go.


  • Make a record of key information. Document your laptop's serial number, MAC addresses (local area connection as well wireless) and other vitals. In the event of a theft, these will be helpful for public safety/police reports. Not sure how to capture your MAC addresses? You can find instructions here.
  • Print out and store the document in a safe place. You may also want a paper record of key contact names and numbers should you lose a cell phone.


  • Track it: Install a tracking program like FrontDoor Laptop Security Software, free to members of the Brown community, or Computrace (LoJack for Laptops), which provides two years of standard coverage for $59.99 (four for $99.99). And don't forget about your smartphone. Track down a lost or stolen device by installing a security app. Check your device's app store for specifics.
  • Mark it: Have the Department of Public Safety engrave and register it. Details on this free service on DPS's Operation Identification web page.
  • If missing, report it: If your laptop is stolen, contact DPS immediately.

Bottom Line

  • Common Sense: Keep your eyes open and your wits about you, if you want to keep your laptop, mobile device or memory cards.

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