Free Ride

Stop Thief

Laptop computers are no longer a luxury; they're a staple for most business travelers. Consequently, some travelers tend to haul notebook computers around like just another piece of baggage. But this attitude could provide the perfect opportunity for some thief to spy your notebook computer--and snatch it.

With thefts of notebook computers on the rise, experts say business travelers should never let their guard down. "The best way to avoid theft is to be aware of your surroundings," says Zoe Scheinman, security expert and product manager at Kensington Technology Group, a San Mateo, California-based firm specializing in mobile security products.

Airports are among the most common locations for laptop computer theft. To protect yourself, wait until everyone has gone through the airport scanner before placing your laptop on the conveyor belt, says Scheinman. Then, watch it come out before you step through.

Scheinman suggests putting your laptop in the hotel safe when you aren't using it. You may also want to consider purchasing a security device, such as Kensington's Master Lock, to lock your notebook computer to a heavy object, says Scheinman, and carrying a distinctive notebook case to easily distinguish yours from the pack.

Keep in mind, too, that thieves can walk off with not only your notebook computer but also valuable information. Scheinman recommends taking only the data you need, using encryption or password protection software to lock other users out, and always having backup files at the office.

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This article was originally published in the March 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Free Ride.

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