The above picture was taken at an airport. A laptop was left open on and unlocked in a public seating area while its user was nowhere to be found. While we decided to simply snap a picture, others could have accessed the device. Notice also the soft drink right next to the laptop. Even if someone didn't maliciously target the user's data, who's to say they couldn't have accidentally knocked the drink over on to the computer?
It may seem crazy that people still leave their devices unattended like this, but the above image is proof that its happening. Of course, leaving your laptop open at the airport isn't the only thing that people do to enable thieves a quick and easy heist. As painful as it can be to have something so important stolen, many people wind up putting themselves in vulnerable situations without even knowing it. The list below was compiled by DC.gov, so the next time you're in one of these situations, think twice about the safety of your devices...
Invest in an inconspicuous carrying case
If nobody knows that you're carrying a valuable device, nobody will want to steal it. Many people carry their devices in cases that make it blatantly obvious what is inside. If someone nearby notices that you're carrying something valuable, they could be waiting for the best opportunity to claim it. However, if it looks like you're simply carrying files and documents for work, they may be less apt to make an attempted robbery.
Don't leave your device in plain sight when exiting your vehicle
There will be times when leaving your laptop in your vehicle is the only option. However, you should never leave the vehicle unlocked. Even if the vehicle is locked, don't leave your devices in plain sight. If someone walking by your car spies your laptop on the passenger seat, you're a busted window away from having a very bad day. Hide your device in an inconspicuous carrying case or slide it under the seat if you find you need to leave it in your vehicle for a little while.
Make your device easily identifiable
At this point, with the BYOD revolution on the rise, nearly everyone has some sort of portable electronic device. Whether you're at work, a coffee shop, or the airport, someone likely has the same device as you do. If you can make your device easily distinguishable, you'll reduce the chance of getting it mixed up with someone else's. Accidents happen. Maybe you're putting your computer through the scanner at the airport and someone else mistakenly grabs it. Well, if there is a sticker or computer cover that makes your device stand out, that person will probably quickly notice and return to seek out his/her own device.
Heeding this advice can protect yourself from having your electronic devices stolen and/or infected. Still, it's always a good idea to prepare for the worst. Always protect your devices with a password so that if they are stolen, the thief won't easily be able to access your information. Additionally, you should backup your data so you can still access important files without having your device on your person. For more helpful ways to keep your devices safe, check out our blog post on "IT Security On-the-Go: Your Travel ITinerary."
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By Lily Teplow
By Brian Downey
By Dave LeClair