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Physical Security


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Physical security means taking measures to protect the computer itself and all of the data that is on it. Trust no one when it comes to taking care of your computer and data.

  • Treat your laptop like cash. If you had a wad of money sitting out in a public place, would you turn your back on it even for just a minute? Would you put it in checked luggage? Leave it on the backseat of your car? Of course not. Keep a careful eye on your laptop just as you would a pile of cash.

  • Keep it locked. Whether you're using your laptop in the office, a hotel, or some other public place, a security device can make it more difficult for someone to steal it. Use a laptop security cable: attach it to something immovable or to a heavy piece of furniture that's difficult to move say, a table or a desk.

  • Keep it off the floor. No matter where you are in public at a conference, a coffee shop, or a registration desk avoid putting your laptop on the floor. If you must put it down, place it between your feet or at least up against your leg, so that you're aware of it.

  • Keep your passwords elsewhere. Remembering strong passwords or access numbers can be difficult. However, leaving either in a laptop carrying case or on your laptop is like leaving the keys in your car. There's no reason to make it easy for a thief to get to your personal or corporate information.

  • Avoid computer bags. When you take your laptop on the road, carrying it in a computer case may advertise what's inside. Consider using a suitcase, a padded briefcase or a backpack instead.

  • Get it out of the car. Don't leave your laptop in the car not on the seat, not in the trunk. Parked cars are a favorite target of laptop thieves; don't help them by leaving your laptop unattended. That said, if you must leave your laptop behind, keep it out of sight.

  • Don't leave it "for just a minute." Your conference colleagues seem trustworthy, so you're comfortable leaving your laptop while you network during a break. The people at the coffee shop seem nice, so you ask them to keep an eye while you use the restroom. Don't leave your laptop unguarded even for a minute. Take it with you if you can, or at least use a cable to secure it to something heavy.

  • Pay attention in airports. Keep your eye on your laptop as you go through security. Hold onto it until the person in front of you has gone through the metal detector and keep an eye out when it emerges on the other side of the screener. The confusion and shuffle of security checkpoints can be fertile ground for theft.

  • Carry it on. Never check your laptop case, always carry it on. Once on the plane always keep your laptop with you, don't put it in the overhead storage bins as most laptop cases look alike and the overhead storage bins also increase the risk of damage to your laptop.

  • Be vigilant in hotels. If you stay in hotels, a security cable may not be enough. Try not to leave your laptop out in your room. Rather, use the safe in your room if there is one. If you're using a security cable to lock down your laptop, consider hanging the "do not disturb" sign on your door.

  • Use bells and whistles. Depending on your security needs, an alarm can be a useful tool. Some laptop alarms sound when there's unexpected motion, or when the computer moves outside a specified range around you. Or consider a kind of "lo-jack" for your laptop: a program that reports the location of your stolen laptop once it's connected to the Internet.

  • Where to turn for help. If your laptop is stolen, report it immediately to the local authorities. If it's your business laptop that's missing, also immediately notify your employer. You may also wish to review the FTC's information for businesses about data breaches. If it's your personal laptop and you fear that your information may be misused by an identity thief, visit the FTC's Identity Theft page for more instructions

  • Get Encrypted. If you have any kind of sensitive data on your computer call the help desk and get scheduled for encryption. If you do not know if the data on your computer is sensitive contact ITS and find out. This way even if your laptop or desktop is stolen the data on your computer is safe.

  • "Lock" Your Computer - It is a natural habit to lock your home when you leave for work, or lock your vehicle when you go into a store, but we don't always think about locking our computers. In today's environment, this habit must be developed and it is easy to do. When you leave your computer, simply press Ctrl/Alt/Delete and then press Enter. When you return to the computer, press Ctrl/Alt/Delete and type your password to resume.

    Another method is to turn on the "lock" feature on your screen saver. This way, it will occur automatically after a set time just in case you forget. To set this feature, go to Start=>Settings=>Control Panel=>Display. Select the Screen Saver tab. Make two changes: fill in the number of minutes before the screen saver activates; then check the box to "on resume, password protect". When you return to the computer, press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and type your password to resume.

  • Computer Repair - Who is fixing your computer? Computer technicians from ITS are assigned to a repair based on the type of problem you are experiencing. Different people work in the networking, hardware and software areas of ITS. We also have student workers that assist our full-time staff. Please follow these guidelines when a technician arrives:

    1. Check the ID badge when a technician arrives. All ITS staff and student workers carry a picture ID card with them.

    2. Call the Help Desk if you have any questions about the technician.

    3. If you are not expecting a technician, verify who they are and determine what they are there to do. Call the Help Desk to verify their answers.

  • Printing Documents - Please follow these guidelines when printing documents to a departmental printer.

    1. Make sure that all documents are collected from the printer as soon as possible.

    2. Shred any documents to be discarded if they contain information that would be considered private or confidential, such as names, addresses, employee IDS, student grades, information of a financial nature.