From the KnowledgeBase
Securing your laptop computer
In an office or dorm room, a laptop can be physically secured with a “cable lock,” a device that connects your laptop to a difficult to move object (e.g., a desk, cubicle wall, post). If you wish to purchase a security cable or other locking device for your computer; you can purchase this type of accessory through your local computer retailer. Also, you can purchase a security cable from the OIT Solutions Center at the Frist Campus Center. Outside of the office or dorm room, there is no substitute for vigilance – being aware of the laptop’s location and taking active measures to ensure that, when it is not with you, it is in a well-protected place.
There are other measures that can be taken to protect laptop data. One is to make sure that all user accounts on your system use strong passwords to prevent a computer thief from easily logging into the device. Still, these practices will not prevent anyone with a screwdriver from stealing a laptop’s hard drive.
The simplest method of protecting your data, even if the hard drive is stolen, is not to store sensitive data on the hard drive in the first place. Copying sensitive data onto CD’s or a small USB drive are affordable alternatives. If sensitive data must be kept on the hard drive, the most effective method of protecting it is through data encryption. Data encryption is a process in which bits of data are mathematically jumbled. Once encrypted, the data can only be read by someone who has the correct password key to “unlock” it.
Unfortunately, disk encryption technologies are relatively new and somewhat
immature. Furthermore, once a hard drive has been encrypted, the data could
become permanently lost if the password necessary to decrypt the data is
forgotten. OIT is continually looking at ways to better secure University
data. Doing your part by utilizing these practices is a good start.