Preventing Device Theft

With an increasing amount of sensitive data being stored on personal devices, the value and mobility of smartphones, tablets, and laptops make them appealing and easy targets. These simple tips will help you be prepared in case your laptop is stolen or your smartphone is missing.

  • Don’t leave your device alone.  If you’re not using it, lock your device in a cabinet or drawer, use a security cable, or take it with you.
  • Don’t leave your device in a car!  This is BY FAR the most common way devices are stolen, even here in rural Williamstown.  Laptop thefts have occurred from private driveways and from public parking lots.  Keep your devices in your house or in the trunk of the vehicle out of sight.
  • Differentiate your device. It’s less likely that someone will steal your device and say they thought it belonged to them if your device looks unique. Covers or colorful cases for a laptop or smartphone can help make your device stand out.
  • Delete sensitive information. Don’t keep restricted data on your laptop.  Restricted data includes your Social Security number, credit card numbers, network IDs, passwords, and other personally identifiable information. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget that this information is on your computer!  Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and password files in particular are of value to thieves. OIT can assist in scanning your computer for restricted data and deleting it, moving it or securing it through encryption.
  • Encrypt information. Protect your personal data with the built-in disc encryption feature included with your computer’s operating system.  OIT can assist with this.
  • Password protect you devices.  Smartphones MUST have a passcode or thumbprint lock on them.  Laptops should always require a password to get in.
  • Use tracking capabilities. Set up and use tracking and recovery software included with most devices.  For iPhones and iPads set up the “Find my iPhone” features (done through your Apple account).  Apple also provides remote-wipe capabilities which allows you to delete your iPhone or iPad if it is known to be stolen.

Educause has created a Campus Security Awareness Campaign 2016.  More information on securing devices and security in general is available