Preventing computer theft can be as simple as ensuring that people can’t easily take the common action of grabbing and stashing your computer equipment on the way in and out of your business.

To help deter physical and data theft of your devices, companies often physically put locks on their laptops and desktop computers, as well their mobile devices.

A stolen laptop (or desktop computer, it happens!) can yield a cyber criminal high returns for the physical machine and the data contained within. Physical locking mechanisms can help discourage and in some cases, prevent easy theft.

Physical Security Considerations Risk Assessment

The reason why it’s so important to prevent your equipment from getting into the hands of a cyber criminals is that it’s fairly easy to get into your computer, even if it has a password. Unless you’re encrypting all your data on machines automatically (and transparently), all the online accounts (email, bank accounts, business service related accounts, etc.) you tend to stay logged into are in possession of said cyber criminal. Also, what’s to say that that person won’t steal your laptop or device without your knowledge, then return it later with hidden malware that could disable your security and/or send any credentials you type in to them over the internet, kind of like the act of “bugging” it in those spy movies.

To help prevent computer theft, consider cable locking as a relatively cheap and simple method of basic security.

The most common type of laptop lock is called a “Kensington” laptop lock or a “Tryten” laptop lock. They are locks that fit in a lock port (a.k.a. Kensington style security slot) common on many laptops.

Kensington port on an average laptop.

If your laptop doesn’t have this kind of slot, you can add one with a Kensington Security Slot Adapter Kit:

These laptop locks can be found at many online retailers or office supply stores. Hook the lock into the lock slot on your laptop then lock the other end around a solid large object that has little to no chance of moving (i.e. attach to an object like a heavy desk but with no easy way of simply moving the cable out and around the object).

Desktop pc’s (often called workstations) often have metal tabs with holes in them for you to put a lock on it. Then you may put a metal cable through the lock and loop it around a solid section on your desk furniture. These desktop machines should always remain locked, unlike laptops which can move around.

Keep in mind, though many desktop computer cases have holes to hook a cable or lock into, not all have ways to secure a lock on them. Your monitor, computer case, and other peripherals might need to have an addition glued or bonded to it for the security cable to run through or lock to hook on to:

There are also many retailers that sell desktop and peripheral locking kits like Kensington, found at your local office supply store or found on a google search for laptop locks.

Locking your business computing devices may seem like a idea that can be too simple to bypass with a pair of heavier duty wire-cutters. Ask yourself:

  • Is it super common for someone to carry heavier duty wire-cutters?
  • Will I be able to tell if someone took a computer to do nefarious things to it (“bug it”), only to return it, and me or my employees would be none the wiser?
  • Will this help prevent a thief from quickly snatching a business device/laptop out of sheer convenience?
  • Will this change the cost of my insurance policy? (verify this with your business or cyber-security insurance provider!)

Yes, simple cable locks may prevent some of the computer theft issues listed above and more.

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