Security providers offer a few tips for travelers flying with electronic devices.
Some companies are beginning to rethink laptop security policies in light of the United Kingdom's ban on electronic devices in airplane cabins.
Others are pressuring authorities to ease the restrictions, which prevent business travelers leaving the United Kingdom from keeping close tabs on the machines and the sensitive data they contain.
In the meantime, security providers are offering a few tips for travelers flying in and out of the United Kingdom.
"Although this greatly impacts international business travelers, this could also foreshadow a broader ban and tighter security restrictions on a global basis," John Livingston, chairperson and CEO of Absolute Software, said in a prepared statement. "These precautions make good business sense at anytime " not just during a period of heightened security. Laptop theft, data security and identity theft are threats that all travelers face on a daily basis. These steps can help mitigate risk, prevent a business disruption and lead to the recovery of lost or stolen laptops."
Whether the ban is temporary in the immediate aftermath of the arrest of more than 20 people allegedly planning to use electronics to detonate bombs in mid-flight, or whether it becomes permanent, Absolute Software suggests the following precautions:
1. Use luggage locks approved by the Transportation Security Administration to deter theft.
2. Pack laptops with soft foam or bubble wrap and place laptop bags inside other luggage to protect them from rough handling and to keep them inconspicuous.
3. Use passwords with a combination of numbers and letters, as well as encryption, solutions to prevent unauthorized access to laptops and sensitive data.
4. Back-up valuable data before travel to minimize the risk of data loss or lost productivity in case of theft. Since the information is often more valuable than the computer itself, it is important to protect the data as much as possible.
5. Invest in asset tracking and recovery software. Absolute Software recommends tools like its CompuTrace, which is embedded in the BIOS of computers.
6. Use remote data protection, so sensitive information can be wiped remotely if the laptop is lost or stolen.
7. Carry portable storage devices, like external thumb drives, for easy access to data in case luggage is delayed or lost.
8. Keep accurate records, including receipts and the computer's make, model, and serial number in a safe place for filing claims.
9. Be sure to shut down the laptop, not leave it in standby or hibernate mode, before packing in luggage.
Other steps to take: use a secure operating system; make sure the user name is not stored in the login box; register laptops with manufacturers; and remove and store PCMCIA cards in a separate, secure place.
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