Laptop Lockdown 101

Laptop computers have lost ground to tablets over the last few years. However, they still play a vital role in maximising productivity for many. My laptop is still the core of my business, even though I use my mobile devices to do certain tasks. It’s important that I protect sensitive information that my clients have given me as a security consultant. My clients frequently ask me what steps I take to make sure my computer and data storage system are secure.

This article will outline some options to lock down a laptop computer. It is primarily intended for other solitary professionals responsible for protecting sensitive information. Because you may be part of larger organizations, some of these issues may already have been addressed. Any security-conscious person who wants to avoid being a victim can also take these steps.

Let me start by saying that there is a lot to this about personal preferences.

There are many options available for setting up a laptop. Many security professionals that I know prefer Unix-based or Linux-based operating systems. Others prefer Windows-based platforms. This article will be written from the perspective of Windows 7 Professional, which is my preferred OS for general productivity.

If Windows is your starting point then you will find useful information here.

Let’s get started:

Situational Awareness and Physical Safety:

It’s impossible to have a conversation about laptop security without pointing out what is obvious. Laptops are small and easy for thieves to steal. They can also be unloaded easily, making them attractive targets. Be smart and you can avoid any physical security issues. When you are on the move, ensure that your computer bag has a shoulder strap. This will make it difficult for anyone to take your laptop with you without your knowledge. If your laptop is not being carried, you can use a lock or store it in a safe. Be smart, and you will be fine.

Shutdown and physical tracking:

There are many great tools available that can help you track down your laptop and prevent it from being booted. LoJack for Laptops may be one example. However, I personally use PCTheftDefense (it came with my Sony Vaio). It’s easy to create an account online, enter a passcode and then you are good to go. You can shut down your laptop if it is stolen or lost. You will need to enter your passcode to boot the laptop if it isn’t being used for more than a few days or it hasn’t checked in with the server for too much. Although it may seem annoying, this is actually quite useful.

How to lock down the BIOS

When it comes to protecting your laptop, the BIOS is your friend. Although there are not many things you can do with it (unless you physically reset it), it can make it almost impossible to use it. There are two simple things that you can do. To gain access to the BIOS, you will first need to create a strong password. Next, ensure that your hard drive is the only device that can be booted. If the USB or CD drive is lost, it will be difficult to boot the laptop from a CD or USB drive.

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