With good reason, because laptop thefts are becoming so common nowadays and a major concern for both organizations and individuals. There are all sorts of solutions for countering loss of laptops already available, but I just came across another one that looks promising.
You might like to download Laptop Alarm and try it out. They say that it's shareware, free to try, with a full version "available soon", so get in while the going's good.
They say that Laptop Alarm will emit a loud alarm -- from the laptop's speakers, I presume -- whenever someone tries to steal you laptop or external peripherals by disconnecting them
Let me know how you go with it. I must admit that I haven't tested this one myself (only because I don't use my laptop much, as mentioned earlier). I'd be interested to get your feedback.
But just in case your laptop does go missing, and it isn't one that has some sort of built in hardware security (fingerprint reader, encrypted hard disk, etc), you might also like to use TrueCrypt to encrypt some whatever sections of your data that you need to keep private.
I use TrueCrypt, and it works very well indeed. It's free open-source disk encryption software (not only for Windows Vista/XP but also for Mac OS X and Linux).
Working in a similar way to TrueCrypt is the second little Windows utility that I'd like to mention. You can use it on USB keys that don't come with their own built-in security (and most of them don't).
It's called Rohos Mini Drive and it allows you to set up a hidden, encrypted partition on your USB flash drive.
I have tested the free version, and it works as outlined on the Rohos web site, except that the screen snapshots seem to be illustrating an older version.
You install the Mini Drive manager, and use it to configure each of you USB keys. When a given key is inserted into a USB socket, you will be prompted to enter the appropriate password that you specified otherwise that particular partition will not open (as a new drive letter).
The free version is limited to a 1 Gb partition size, and one or two of the functions are disabled unless you purchase the full edition, but the free edition is far better than having no data protection at all on the USB flash drive.
Did you hear that, all you IT consultants and public servants who are wont to carry around sensitive data about your customers and constituents on those oh-so-easily-misplaced USB keys?
Apart from the above two tools that I recently came across, there are lots of other sources for tips, techniques and tools for improving laptop and USB security, . For laptop theft prevention, see here or here for example.
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some fun and test your grey matter at the same time!