Over the holidays, a lot of people have acquired new smartphones, notebooks, tablets, eReaders and digital cameras. While it's fun to discover all the cool things we can do with our personal technology, it is really important to keep security in mind.
Items like smartphones, cameras, tablets and even notebooks are notoriously popular targets for thieves.
More than the value of the devices themselves, what makes our technology so important is the personal and private information that we keep inside them. No one wants their personal information falling into the wrong hands.
We've all heard horror stories of new devices being left behind in bars or airplanes, or simply robbed from unsuspecting or distracted owners. Here are some tips for keeping your tech valuables safe.
Awareness and Prevention
As with most things, prevention is the best way to make sure your gadgets are not stolen. Being aware of where your belongings are at all times may seem obvious, but it's also worth repeating.
Smartphones and tablets should never be left out on tables in public or left in plain sight. If you aren't using your device, keep in in your pocket or in a bag. Use the built-in lock and security feature to keep your information safe.
Many notebooks have a Kensington Security Slot. You can insert an inexpensive computer lock, like the one at the top of this story, to secure the computer to your work surface, which makes it unattractive to would be thieves.
Sometimes, no matter how careful and aware we are, the unexpected happens. Here are some smart solutions that can help track and retrieve our personal technology.
Using its cloud service that interconnects iOS and Mac computers by location and user, Apple's Find My Mac uses known Wi-Fi tower location databases to pinpoint a Mac's whereabouts. While it doesn't have access to cell tower triangulation and GPS technology the way an iPhone or 3G-capable iPad does, Find My Mac offers a number of useful features. It gives users whose Macs have gone missing the option of locking the screen with a four-digit PIN and erasing the contents of the hard drive remotely.
Find My Mac also lets Mac owners play a sound through their Mac's speakers, and display a message of their own creation on the device's screen. Even if your Mac is off when you send these commands, they will take effect the next time it's online. The same features extend to iOS devices, which can be tracked and, if need be, completely erased remotely.
LoJack and LaptopSentry are two solutions that PC users can consider to secure their laptops, track them if they get stolen and erase valuable information if need be.
LoJack for Laptops (starting at $39.99 a year) can locate, lock, recover and if all fails, delete critical information in PC or Mac laptops. Aside from the underlying technologies in LoJack for Laptops, they also have a dedicated Theft Recovery Team. If your protected computer is stolen, the team can use technology to track it, and work with local law enforcement to get it back in customer's hands.
LaptopSentry offers similar features but is a PC-only solution. Starting at $3 a month per PC, LaptopSentry service bundles various features to back-up files, track a laptop remotely, retrieve files remotely and take photos remotely using laptop's built-in webcam. It can can even sound off an alarm once the power adaptor is disconnected and send an SMS message as well as encrypting your sensitive data.
A Solution for Lost Digital Cameras
With lost or stolen digital cameras, it is inevitable that photos they've taken will somehow eventually end up on the Internet and CameraTrace by GadgetTrack can track these photos and possibly lead owners to their lost or stolen devices.
CameraTrace now provides a service to register a camera into an advanced search engine that allows users to find images taken by a specific camera with just the serial number and using the (Exchangeable Image Format (EXIF) tags in each photo.
CameraTrace also helps users track down stolen cameras and monitor copyrighted photos online receive real-time notifications when new images are found. GadgetTrack can also offer camera recovery assistance with law enforcement and even has an online system for filing police reports.
The one-time $10 premium service fee includes a metallic "Lost & Found Tag" with a unique serial number that provides an easy way for someone who finds a lost camera to get in touch with the owner. The tag also serves as a warning to would-be-thieves that the device is registered with the system.
These affordable solutions leverage existing technologies and add some security and insurance for gadget owners against theft and loss.