How to protect your gadgets from theft
THE laptop and mobile phone have overtaken the family dog as “man’s best friend”.
But the theft of these and related personal gadgets has also increased drastically. High unemployment in Zimbabwe, and economic problems contribute to the sharp increase in the theft of these devices, which have become a target for thieves.
They are small, valuable, easily hidden and have a ready market. A thief can sell a stolen laptop or other device to second-hand dealers and receive up to half of it in cash. Criminals know that the penalties for stealing these devices are light.
Facts you need to know
A laptop and a mobile device have a one in 10 chance of being stolen.
Almost half of all laptop and mobile device thefts occur in offices or classrooms.
98% of stolen laptops are never recovered.
Laptops have a higher rate of security problems than desktop workstations.
The cost of a stolen tablet or laptop is not only its replacement cost, but also the cost of peripherals and accessories, such as software. An even greater cost is potential exposure and liability resulting from lost confidential corporate and customer information for companies.
How can you reduce the risk?
Many times we think about what we could have done to prevent valuable items from being stolen. Here are some tips to help you protect your personal electronic devices and laptops:
Do not board informal taxis if you have your laptop or electronic mobile device. You will be robbed.
Do not leave your devices in your vehicle, locked or unlocked.
If you need to leave your devices in a vehicle, the best place would be the trunk. If you don’t have a trunk, try to hide it or fit it under a seat and lock the doors. My personal advice is just don’t leave them in the vehicle.
Do not drive or travel with your laptop or mobile device visible on the passenger seat. Whether windows are closed or open, the thieves will steal them.
Carry your devices in a non-descript carrier, briefcase or bag when moving around, especially in our town centres. Placing these items in a case designed for computers is an immediate warning to thieves. In short, ditch that laptop bag.
Never leave a meeting or conference room without your laptop or personal electronics, take them with you.
Lock your device in a safe place when not in use or use a cable lock that wraps around a desk or chair leg.
Apply distinctive paint marks (such as indelible markers) to make your laptop unique and easily identifiable.
Consider purchasing a theft alarm system specifically made for laptops and other electronics. Also consider two-way wireless security alarms for laptops. If the alarm detects movement, it first checks if you are nearby. If not, your key fob remote is alerted. The alarm can also be set to activate only when motion is detected.
Commercially available software can also provide a way to protect your devices from intrusion and prevent thieves from getting to your personal data. Most mobile devices include the ability to remotely “wipe” or wipe the data from the phone or tablet if your device is lost or stolen.
Always use a password to protect your portable device from unauthorized use.
If a theft occurs, report it immediately to your nearest police station. Device owners should have the make, model and serial number available so that the police can file a full report and record the stolen electronic device information immediately.
If it is believed that your phone is still active, the police may request that you do not immediately cancel your service to assist with the investigation.
For those traveling, beware of a theft process that is carried out when approaching the X-ray scanner at the airport: The first person goes through the scanner quickly. The second person moves slowly, slowed by pockets full of keys and other things. Meanwhile, the travelers stuck behind him had already placed their belongings – including laptops, mobile phones and tablets – on the conveyor belt.
The first thief picks up the laptop and/or your electronic mobile devices as if they were his own and walks away while the other thief continues to hold the line back.
To prevent this type of theft, just put your laptop or mobile device on the conveyor belt when you are next in line and keep an eye on your laptop, tablet or other electronics as they come off the conveyor belt. Alert security personnel immediately if you think someone is trying to steal your devices.
It is your duty to secure and protect your electronic devices.
Be a smart traveler, secure your belongings.
Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd. He is the current chairman of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers
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