Guarding against mobile and laptop theft

Smartphones, tablets, netbooks and notebooks are small, lightweight and easy to steal. Worse, in cases of theft, people don’t just lose expensive technology, but important data.

All it takes is one quick grab. And people make it easy for thieves by laying their devices in front of them at restaurants, when they go to their bathrooms or when they put them in an outside pocket of a backpack.

It’s awful, says Rainer Hattenhauer, a technology author. “A modern smartphone is at least as important as money or credit cards and should be treated the same way.” He’s also sceptical of technologies that help people find these devices if they do get stolen: “I’ve never heard of a case where someone got his mobile back after a robbery.” Thus, protection means prevention: making sure the device never gets stolen. Second, make sure the damage is limited if the worst does happen.

Andreas Mayer, who heads a German police criminal prevention unit, agrees. It’s important to never give thieves an opportunity, he says.

“The most effective protection is to keep the device on your person.” He says notebook locks or padlocked briefcases aren’t as useful, partially because they’re impractical.

“If the security doesn’t sensibly fit into your day, then it disrupts more than it’s useful,” says Hattenhauer.

There are also physical security devices for smartphones, like alarm devices on key chains that automatically sound when they’re a certain distance from the phone. The problem there is that the devices operate via Bluetooth, says Mayer.

“Third parties can eventually access sensitive data with an active Bluetooth connection,” he says. That creates a new risk.

Manufacturers like HTC or Samsung keep free Internet platforms from, which smartphones can be located and blocked and where data can be deleted. Such services are also anchored in Windows Phone 7, while Apple integrates them into its Mobile Me.

The Apple version carries a fee, though the app for locating and blocking the iPhone is free. Android users have a great variety available.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 11:15:47 PM |

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