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Keep your laptop safe and secure while you travel

Alex Cocilova | Nov. 19, 2013
PCs make great travel companions, but you need to treat them right.

When traveling by car, keep your laptop hidden. Leaving it exposed on the passenger seat, even when getting out to pump gas, could be the perfect opportunity for a sticky-fingered individual to reach in and scoop up the loot. Keep it in the trunk, under the seat, or cover it with a jacket. And keep your car locked at all times.

If, in spite of your best efforts, your laptop still winds up missing, you might be able to recover it—provided you installed a program such as LoJack before you hit the road. You'll find some other good recovery tips here.

Back it up and lock it down
What could be worse than losing your laptop? Losing the information you have stored on it. Follow a backup regimen, keeping a copy of your important data on a hard drive at the home or office or in the cloud, so you can pick up where you left off as soon as you can afford to replace the missing PC.

And what could be worse than losing the information stored on your laptop? Knowing some unsavory person has access to it. What's on your laptop? Contact information for friends, family, and colleagues? Personal photos? Banking and tax records? Sensitive information about your business? Perhaps there's enough personal information and photos to let someone steal your identity. Protect yourself by locking it all down with a strong password and encryption.

Store any written-down passwords and sensitive data away from the laptop itself. It doesn't do much good if the thief manages to snag the laptop and any information necessary to access what's stored on it.

Remember, you're in public
When wandering between public Wi-Fi networks, it's easy to pick up hitchhikers in the form of viruses, malware, and data snoops.

Make sure you have up-to-date antivirus and antispyware software installed and running in the background. Keep your firewall up to block unsolicited connections to your PC. When connected to an unfamiliar network, it's sometimes best to be paranoid and treat everything like the enemy.

Going online for some last-minute holiday shopping or to check your bank account while you're on the road might seem like a good idea, but uploading personal information to the Internet while using public Wi-Fi is asking for trouble. If possible, wait until you're on a secured network to do the sensitive stuff.

If you must perform an online transaction, be sure the web address begins with "https" and that there's a locked padlock icon in the corner of the browser window or in the address bar itself, indicating you're connected to a secure site.


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