Canadian Security Magazine

Protect laptops and data before travelling

Jennifer Brown   

News Data Security

For years now passengers travelling with their laptop computers have become accustom to having to remove their computers from their cases while security screeners at the airport scrutinize them. Now they face the possibility of having them banned from carry on luggage.

After authorities in the U.K. arrested 21 suspects in connection with
an alleged terrorist plot to blow up numerous aircraft en route to the
U.S., air security experts there issued a ban on all electronic devices in airplane cabins.
And while those restrictions are now being relaxed, travellers should consider
the possibility they could be separated from their data when embarking on a flight.

this greatly impacts international business travellers, this could also
foreshadow a broader ban and tighter security restrictions on a global
basis," said John Livingston, chairman and CEO of Vancouver-based
Absolute Software. "Passengers with laptops may be reluctant to place
them in their checked-in luggage, but there are steps they can take to
protect their computers and sensitive data."

Livingston said
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 travellers 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."

With business travellers making up the bulk of all travel, restrictions on carry on luggage are being lifted, but  but it could happen at a moment’s notice, said Bill Margeson, CEO of CBL Data Recovery Technologies in Markham, Ont.


"Every person travelling should be prepared to have to take their laptop out of its case and to deal with the jostling that can happen. A cool-looking attaché case may look good but can it protect your laptop from the physical shock from being dropped?"

Margeson suggests travellers back-up their data before
heading on their trip — even if you are able to have the computer with
you on the flight. Business travellers should also consider a sturdier case for their laptops and consider other means of securing the data contained in them.

Some other recommends include:

”¢ Make sure you have the data you really need for your trip, burn it to CD or transfer it to a thumb drive so you’re not left completely high and dry at that all important business meeting.

”¢  Use luggage
locks. Luggage locks act as a deterrent to theft and may discourage a
criminal from targeting your bag. Ensure that your luggage lock is
approved by the transit authority so that it survives inspection.

Ӣ Pack laptops for
rough handling. To avoid unnecessary damage, encase laptops in soft
foam or bubble wrap. Place the wrapped package inside a traditional
laptop bag or hard case to protect it from rough treatment from baggage
handlers or the baggage carousel.

Ӣ Keep laptops
inconspicuous. Do not check a laptop bag as luggage — instead, put your
laptop inside another piece of checked luggage that does not advertise
the contents inside. Layering also helps protect against damage and
keeps the laptop inconspicuous.   

Ӣ Use complex passwords
and encryption solutions. Prevent unauthorized access to your laptop
and sensitive data. Simple passwords can often be ‘hacked’ by criminals
so be sure to always use a complex combination of letters and numbers.

Ӣ Back-up valuable data before travel. It is important to back-up data as
frequently as possible to minimize the risk of data loss or lost
productivity in the event that your laptop is lost or stolen. Since the
information or ‘knowledge’ that is stored on the computer is often more
valuable than the computer itself, it is important to treat the data
with as much care as possible.

Ӣ Consider investing in asset tracking and
recovery software. These tools often help identify the
root cause of internal theft by catching the thieves responsible.

Ӣ Keep accurate records.
Keep purchase receipts and carry your computer’s make, model, and
serial number in a safe place in case your luggage is lost and you need
to file a claim.

”¢  Ensure your laptop is shut down. Make sure
your laptop is completely shut down and not in standby or hibernate
mode before packing in luggage.

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