Securing Your Portable Computer
Why It's Important
There have been several high profile computer security incidents that did not involve hackers or viruses - they were caused by burglars stealing the computer. In one case, the burglars didn't steal the computer; they stole the hard drive out of the computer! In all of the cases, the computers had a lot of very confidential data saved on the hard drive.
What You Can Do About It
Be careful about what private or confidential data you save on your computer hard drive (or USB drive). Before saving confidential information on your computer, ask yourself what the consequences would be if your computer was stolen or the data was copied off of your computer by a Trojan horse program? Is your computer the safest place for the data? And, should the data be encrypted? Routinely backup important data and store it in a secure place away from the computer. Periodically review the files you have saved on your computer and use a secure erase utility to remove old files, particularly if they contain sensitive information. University policy prohibits saving SSN or Credit Card data on any portable computing device or portable storage media.
Because many laptop computers are used when traveling and get connected to many different networks, it is very important for laptop computers to be kept up to date with the latest security patches, run a good up to date anti- virus scanner, and have a personal firewall. Laptops that are owned by the university can be brought to the IT help desk in AD480 for maintenance.
Take all of the necessary precautions to keep your computer from being stolen. Never leave a laptop computer or PDA unattended - not even for a minute. When not in use laptops, PDA's, USB drives and CD's should be locked up out of sight. Portable computing devices should be configured to require some kind of "boot up" password before the device can be booted up. It should also require a "logon" Username/password (or biometric authentication) before the desktop and data can be accessed. Sensitive or confidential data should be encrypted. Windows laptop computers deployed to individuals by the Division of Information Technology has been encrypted with whole drive encryption. Other security devices may prove useful; however the quality of these devices varies greatly, so shop and compare.