How To: Laptop Security Basics - Page 2

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff
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BIOS Passwords

The next step in securing your computer is to create a BIOS password.

Step 1 - Access the BIOS generally by reading the small text on the top or bottom of your computer immediately after the computer first powers on. Generally you can press F2, Delete, or Escape to enter the BIOS setup. Some computers, including IBM models, do not display instructions or have a usual key to press to access the BIOS. For these, look up how to access the BIOS for that particular model using your preferred search engine.

Step 2 - Navigate to the menu that presents you with an option to set an administrator password. Once there, click on the option and type in your password twice to verify. This is a fairly straightforward process.

These passwords are significantly more difficult to remove, which inherently increases their ability to prevent unauthorized use of a laptop. Removal of these passwords requires someone to physically disassemble the laptop and locate the CMOS battery, remove it (as well as the regular battery), drain all remaining power from the MoBo (usually accomplished by pressing the power key, which will sap the remaining power...also a handy trick before you install memory), and then reassemble the laptop. This is further complicated because not all laptops have the CMOS battery in the same place. I even encountered one that I swear does not have a CMOS battery... I was unable to reset that one.

Physical Security Measures

This step is the least technical.

There are a variety of physical locking devices that can be purchased in most stores that have a technology section. All recently manufactured laptops have a notch on the side, commonly referred to as a Kensington security slot.

Placement may vary. On HP models, for example, it is generally at the bottom of the LCD; Toshiba tends to place theirs on the side of the laptop nearer where you'd look to find a USB port. Options you may consider include locking cable tethers (also here), or for the ultimate in security, full-blown safe-like enclosures.

Theft Recovery Software

If the worst happens and your laptop is stolen, this is your last line of defense.

There are several programs designed to track your laptop in the event that it is stolen. The most popular of the options out there is LoJack for Laptops. $39 buys you a program that can reinstall itself on a newly reformatted computer (thanks to an agent embedded in the BIOS of newer computers) and track itself, ultimately leading to the recovery of your laptop.

Once you've followed these steps, you've vastly increased your resistance to both data loss and theft!

Adapted from Enterpriseitplanet.com.

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This article was originally published on September 24, 2008
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