SAFE & SOUND IN THE CYBER AGE: ON THE ROAD AGAIN
a.k.a. "Tips for technology travelers"
by Chey Cobb and Stephen Cobb, Newscan Daily April 16, 2004
The point of these stories is to bring home the fact that
notebooks do get stolen, particularly if they are not closely guarded. Your
strategic response to this reality needs to address two aspects: prevention and
recovery. First, do what you can to prevent theft of your notebook. Second, do
what you can to minimize the fallout, should theft occur anyway. Here, thinly
disguised as a list of actionable items, is a prevention plan:
* Keep your notebook with you at all times.
-Never place it in checked luggage.
-Never leave in unattended, e.g. on a podium or in a conference room.
-Never let it out of your sight at airport security checkpoints.
* If you must leave your notebook unattended, lock it up or hide it.
-Use the hotel room safe (but only after you have made sure the safe works properly).
-If there is no safe in your room, and you have to step out, and you don't want to take it with you, place it between mattress and
box springs (but not while it is still running).
-Donšt leave it plugged in, turned on, in front of hotel room window with the drapes open.
-Disguise the fact that you are out of your room by placing the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door and leaving the TV tuned to
something not too loud, like CNN Headline News.
* Make life harder for thieves
-Carry the computer in a bag with a strap that will make it harder for someone to snatch.
-Don't let others see you place it in the trunk of your car.
-Chose a bag that doesn't shout "computer bag."
-Consider a motion detector alarm and/or cable lock.
These items address physical prevention. There is also logical prevention, that is, preventing a thief who succeeds in getting your computer from getting at the information it contains. We will address this topic in a future column.
As to your recovery plan, realistically, you should focus on getting by without the computer. This means backing up essential
information. Here's one regimen to consider:
A. Synchronize the notebook hard drive with a removable hard drive before a trip (essentially making a backup of the entire drive).
B. Store removable hard drive in a safe place.
C. Store 'active' documents on removable media, such as a memory stick or USB flash drive.
D. Take the removable media out of the drive when not in use, and store on your person (not in the computer bag).
Steps A and B mean that when you get back home you can re-create the old system on a replacement machine. Steps C and D mean that documents you change while you are on the road will survive theft of the notebook.
[Chey Cobb, CISSP, the author of "Cryptography for Dummies" and "Network Security for Dummies," is a former senior technical security advisor to the NRO. She can be emailed as chey at aug dot com. Stephen Cobb, CISSP, is the author of "Privacy for Business" and can be emailed as scobb at cobb dot com.]
NewsScan Daily is underwritten by RLG, a world-class organization making significant and sustained contributions to the effective management and appropriate use of information technology. NSD is written by John Gehl and Suzanne Douglas, editors@NewsScan.com.
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