Home > Articles > Hardware > Upgrading & Repairing

Securing Your Laptop

Two of the greatest strengths of a portable device or laptop also make it attractive to thieves: It is portable and it is valuable. Michelle Johnston identifies some solid ways to deter thieves from stealing your laptop or the data inside.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

The workforce in the United States is becoming increasingly mobile. Gartner predicts that by the year 2005, 60% of workers will have mobile access to corporate data, and more than 40% of corporate data will be stored on portable devices outside corporate walls (such as laptops, PDAs, and smartphones).

Many of these devices will be accessing corporate data via wireless networks. Gartner predicts that by the year 2007, there will be nearly 120,000 WLAN "hot spot" gateways worldwide, providing access to private and public networks for more than 200 million mobile devices used in business.

Two of the greatest strengths of a portable device or laptop are also its greatest weaknesses: (1) It is portable and (2) it is valuable! These "strengths" make laptops more likely to be lost or stolen, or for information on them to be stolen, such as via wireless network sniffing.

Consider these points:

  • A laptop is easy to carry to and from work, presentations, and client meetings—but, unfortunately, that means that it is also very easy for a thief to carry.

  • Because a laptop is smaller and more portable than your desktop PC, it is also more easily left behind by accident.

  • Your laptop is valuable to you because it can speedily provide you with access to important data, information, and software—but that also makes it valuable to someone else and, therefore, of interest to thieves.

The Safeware Insurance Group reports that, in the United States, a laptop owner now has a 1 in 14 chance that the laptop will be stolen.

Foiling Thieves

In light of this knowledge, you should be aware of where your laptop is at all times. If you are standing making a phone call, make sure that your laptop is tucked tightly between your ankles.

If you leave a conference room for a break during a presentation, be sure that the room is locked while you are away, or take your laptop with you. If you cannot take it with you because you are leaving for only a short period of time, at least remember to log off from any network or software that you are logged into.

When carrying your laptop between locations, be sure to carry it in a bag or backpack that is not designed solely for laptops, so as not to draw the attention of potential thieves.

Airports and hotels are favorite places for thieves. Never check in laptops as luggage when flying because they can often disappear. Keep a close eye on your laptop while it is on the conveyer belt at the metal detectors also: Laptops and other valuables are often stolen from here. In particular, do not let your laptop out of your sight if you are picked out for a head-to-toe check. And don't forget to pick it up again after it has passed through the security check! Harried passengers rushing to catch flights often leave behind their laptops.

Once on board the plane, stow your laptop at your feet under the chair in front of you. Do not leave it in the overhead bins to which other passengers will also have access, especially on a long flight, when you might fall asleep and not notice someone relieving you of your precious laptop.

If you have to leave your laptop in the car, always leave it either in the locked trunk of your car or well hidden within the main part of a locked car. Never leave your laptop in an unlocked vehicle, even if that vehicle is in your own driveway or garage. Of course, keep it out of view as well, even if the vehicle is locked. Be especially aware if your car is parked in the parking garage near your workplace: Thieves know that they are more likely to find expensive computer equipment in cars here, and such garages provide them with exit options and cover.

When leaving the office at night, ensure that your laptop is locked securely in a drawer or laptop locker, or is secured to the desk by a cable lock to which only you have the key. Remember that office cleaners, maintenance workers, and others often have access to the office keys, so it is not enough to simply lock your office door.

Cable locks are extremely effective deterrents because most of them fit onto the security slot (most laptops have one of these) and then around a heavy table leg or fixture. Removing one is too much trouble for all but the most determined thief. Note that a really determined thief can get around most cables with a bolt cutter, but most thieves will be deterred altogether by this measure; even determined thieves will be slowed down, at least. If your laptop does not have a security slot, glue-on and screw-on options are available from a number of vendors.

Another extremely effective deterrent measure is to have a theft-prevention plate fitted to your laptop (or PDA). Such a plate usually includes some kind of barcode to uniquely identify the laptop and is, at least in part, indelible and permanent. It works by clearly indicating that the laptop is police-traceable (and that it has been stolen if it is in the wrong hands). It is almost impossible to resell a laptop marked with such a plate, and it makes it easy to return the laptop to its rightful owner if and when it is found. This also makes the plate an effective method of retrieving mislaid property.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020