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Smartphone, Wireless, and Mobile Technologies Forum

Laptop Security While Traveling

 1:37 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

With many webmasters headed to Orlando soon, I'm curious what steps experienced road warriors take to keep their laptop secure. I'm concerned about two main areas:

1. Physical security, i.e., keeping it from getting lifted from the room when one isn't present. Any clever tricks? Locking it in a big suitcase might slow down a casual opportunist, I suppose, but wouldn't really deter a serious thief.

2. Network security. Normally, my notebook hides behind my router and I feel fairly secure. If I connect to a Wi-Fi or Ethernet network in a hotel or other public location, though, it seems like I'm far more open to hackers, both inside the network and perhaps outside if their network security is lax. Is a software firewall like Norton a good enough solution?



 1:48 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Interesting question for sure.
Here is what I have done in the past.

1) Physical security: I do lock the laptop inside of a suitcase, but I carry a steel cable bicycle lock that I wrap around the suit case and something like the leg of a bed or other hard to move object.

2) Network security: The first thing I do before leaving is turn off file and print sharing and disable any shared drives or folders.

I'm sure the travel pro's have some better suggestions then this and I'm listening with open ears.


 2:38 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

The bicycle chain is a good idea, though I wonder if airport security would find it strange or dangerous. Maybe if it was in checked luggage it wouldn't pose a problem. Finding something to attach it to could be tough, too... some hotel beds don't have conventional frames & often the headboard is just a panel attached to the wall. The plumbing might work as an anchor point, though. I guess the goal is to discourage rather than prevent.


 2:46 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

I get more questions about why I have a 25' Cat 5 cable in my carry on then the bicycle lock and so far I have found plumbing pipes, hot water heat pipes and as a last resort a chair. It's not pro proof but it's all I have for now.


 3:26 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

A chair might not be too bad, really. Either the thief has to bust it apart in the room or walk away with a chair/case/chain combo.

What kind of case do you use? Most suitcases/briefcases have cheesy locks (one-key-fits-all) and even combination ones aren't all that sturdy. I suppose a Zero Halliburton or similar might deter easy cracking. The weakest link?


 3:31 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

The bicycle cable lock I have fits fairly snug around the suit case through the handle and yes it is the weakest link.


 3:57 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Don't forget to actually use your physical security. I have heard at least two stories of people giving presentations, turning to answer questions afterwards at the podium, and then finding their hard drive has been removed. In many cases that's just as bad as losing the whole thing, since you've lost whatever private or secret documents and correspondence you have stored.

Don't turn around in the airport, either.


 4:01 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Don't turn around in the airport, either.

Never turn around when fleeing Sodom.


 4:30 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

What about the network security side of things when using WiFi or a hotel Ethernet port? Any routine precautions beyond turning off file sharing as suggested by Conard?


 6:00 pm on Feb 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

You all ready mentioned the firewall, but if this were Def Con instead of Pub Con I would carry a disk with a Ghost image of my pre-conference drive just in case I needed to restore.
I also wouldn't be bringing this machine but one that was stripped down to just my must have applications.


 6:20 pm on Feb 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't let my laptop leave my hands as much as I can. Also for security reasons I use a barebones system with everthing locked down I bring a back up copy of my os and my presentation on back up disc and my secret weapon is I've got everthing on a ftp server hidden in mountains of utah salt flats ha ha. But I really do travel like that and I really don't trust internet connection at any hotel I'm sure everything is cached somewhere you might say I'm paranoid I like to call myself careful

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