30 July, 2008

How safe is your laptop?

Dell recently release a report (30-Jun-08) on loss of laptops at airports, and a whopping 12,000 are lost every week. For class B airports such as LAX, JFK, Dulles, the average is 286 laptops per week per airport. In addition, over 50% of those surveyed said their laptop contained sensitive information. Sixty-five percent of the same survey group said they do not take any special precautions to protect their data. In addition, 42% of the respondents do not have their data backed up. What are you doing to protect your laptop and its data when you travel?

Of course if you are a Dell customer, the now have some offerings to help address this problem. About.com offers 8 tips for travelers with laptops.

The rules for inspecting your laptop when coming in and out of the country has recently changed too. Did you know that your laptop can be seized at the border for inspection for no reason at all?
International travelers entering the United States face potential inspection and seizure of their laptops and other electronic devices, and copying of the electronic files they contain as part of the country's border security.
-- The Transnational
This is a fight that is just beginning. Congress heard from advocacy groups and others recently on this subject, though the Department of Homeland Security (who has control of this process) failed to participate.
Upheld in April by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit federal appeals court decision, such activity by border patrol agents has drawn criticism--especially as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has not complied with requests to provide information--and was the subject of a U.S. Senate hearing last month.
-- The Transnational
So in addition to potentially losing your laptop when going through security domestically, you can potentially lose your laptop to the Feds when entering or leaving the country. I have heard some industry experts suggest that before traveling out of the country, you should back up all your data through a web service, delete it from your laptop, and then restore it once you arrive at your destination. The delete and restore may be a bit much, but having access to your files over the web could be a good backup plan if your laptop is seized, lost, or even if it breaks down.

Be careful out there.

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