Holiday Travel: 10 Ways to Keep Your Laptop, Privacy Safe

Holiday travelers, hang onto your laptops: One is now stolen every 53 seconds. Here are 10 tips to keep your PC and data safe as we enter the busiest travel season of the year.

If you're planning on traveling with your laptop this holiday season, you might want to travel prepared. The statistics are overwhelmingly bad: According to Gartner, one laptop is stolen every 53 seconds.

US airports, in particular, have become black holes for business travelers' laptops: 12,000 laptops are lost at US airports every week, and 70 percent of those laptops, which good Samaritans and airport employees return to lost-and-found departments, are never reclaimed, reported the Ponemon Institute.

Increased security measures have created longer checkpoint lines and a more stressful environment. More than 70 percent of business travelers feel rushed when trying to get on their flights, noted the Ponemon research, and 60 percent worry that delays due to security checkpoints will cause them to miss their flight. It's not surprising, then, that according to US airport representatives, the most common airport locations where laptops are lost or missing include security checkpoints (40 percent) and departure gates (23 percent), the Ponemon report found. (See "8 Laptop Bags That Will Help You Speed Through Airport Security" to help make your travels more efficient.)

Add a couple of screaming kids and millions of others trying to "get home for the holidays," and you've got a recipe for laptop loss. "The stress of rushing to catch a flight," notes the Ponemon report, "combined with the number of items business travelers typically carry (such as laptops, cell phones, PDAs, briefcases and luggage) creates a situation that is conducive to property loss."

10 Tips to Avoid Laptop and Data Loss

To help ensure a safer and less hectic holiday season, Absolute Software, an asset- and data-protection and recovery vendor, offers these 10 tips:

1. Back Up Valuable Data Before Traveling. Travelers should back up their data as often as possible to minimize the risk of data loss in the event that their laptop is stolen, the Absolute Software report urges. "Use an encrypted thumb drive to back up sensitive or valuable files and keep it separate from your laptop," notes the report. "Because the information stored on the laptop is often more valuable than the laptop itself, it is important to treat the data with as much care as possible."

2. Use Laptop Recovery and Data Protection Software. "Laptop recovery tools are highly effective in the event thieves do make off with your gear," according to the report. In addition, the security vendors' software solutions, such as Absolute Software's Computrace LoJack for Laptops, can help track down the laptop.

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