Portable Device Support

The links below provide tips and suggestions for securing these portable devices:

Protecting Your Laptop

Overview

Laptop computers have become a prime target of thieves. These thieves are not only targeting these devices for the value of the device itself, but also for the sensitive data contained therein. This document will describe methods you can use to protect your laptop device against physical and data theft.

Physical Protection

Listed below are some simple measures you can take so that your laptop isn't a prime target for thieves:

  • Never leave your laptop unattended in an unlocked area. Many laptops are stolen from their owners' offices when they have stepped out briefly to use the washroom or for a coffee break.
  • Use a locking cable for your laptop (available at computer and office supply stores) when you must leave your laptop somewhere other than your home or your (locked) office. While these locks won't stop a determined thief, they will make your laptop a less attractive target.
  • Never leave a laptop, laptop case, or briefcase in plain sight in a car. Put the laptop into the trunk or a covered storage area when you first get in the car. Avoid transferring the laptop to the trunk when you've arrived at your destination, since a thief could easily observe you and would know where to find the laptop. Consider threading a security cable through the hinge of the trunk for added security.
  • Watch your laptop carefully in airports and train stations. Do not put it in checked luggage. Do not ignore or leave it alone for even a few seconds. When going through security, place it on the x-ray machine last, immediately before walking through.
  • Don't leave your laptop or any laptop accessories visible in your hotel room. Store it in the in-room safe (if available) or in a drawer covered by clothes.
  • Don't leave a laptop in your office unattended unless the door is closed and locked. Theft from offices is a common problem.

Data Protection

 It is sometimes necessary to store confidential or sensitive data on your laptop. The following suggestions will help you to ensure the security of this data:

 Keep the amount of institutional data stored on your laptop to a minimum.

  • If you must store confidential data on your laptop, use data encryption software to protect it. Please contact the IT Solutions Centre (403-329-2490 or help@uleth.ca) for details.
  • If you are encrypting some or all of the data on your laptop, ensure that you have an adequate backup scheme in place since your data can be lost irretrievably if you forget your password.
  • Avoid using any option that "remembers" your password. These features are strictly for convenience (so that you do not have to re-enter your password the next time you connect) and should not be used, especially on laptops, since they often allow a thief to recover your passwords.

 

Protecting Your SmartPhone

Smartphones, such as Blackberries, Treos, or iPhones, are increasingly common in the University environment. We call them "phones" because we make telephone calls on them, but with email, web browsing, applications, and gigabytes of file storage, your smartphone is a small computer, and that makes it a potential security and privacy risk.

Smartphones are small and valuable, and thus are particularly vulnerable to theft and resale. Your smartphone is also an open window into your professional and/or personal life, so avoiding potential phone theft is also critical to keeping your data and the University's data secure and confidential.

Some tips for protecting your smartphone and the data it contains:

  • Never leave your smartphone unattended. If you won't be carrying your smartphone, ensure that it is stored in a secure location (eg. locked in your office or locked in a filing cabinet or desk drawer).
  • Never leave your smartphone in plain sight in your car.
  • Set a password that must be entered to use your smartphone. This way, if your smartphone is stolen, the thief will not have ready access to your email and other data on the phone, and will not be able to place phone calls.
  • Avoid storing confidential data on your smartphone. Be sure to remove any such data once you are done with it.
  • Ensure that all data on your smartphone is properly erased before selling or discarding it. For assistance, please contact the IT Solutions Centre (403-329-2490 or help@uleth.ca).

Protecting Your Portable Media

 Portable media such as USB flash drives, flash memory cards, and CDs/DVDs are becoming a crucial part of daily business at the U of L for many faculty, staff, and students. These devices allow users to transfer and store large amounts of information easily, but are also easily lost or stolen. The following are some tips for protecting data on portable media:

 Keep the amount of institutional data stored on your portable media to a minimum.

  • If you must store confidential data on portable media, use data encryption to protect it. For some devices, encryption is part of the device hardware and happens automatically. In other cases, a software-based encryption scheme can be used to encrypt sensitive data. We recommend hardware-based encryption where possible. Please contact the IT Solutions Centre (403-329-2490 or help@uleth.ca) for details.
  • If you wish to dispose of portable media that has, at any time, contained institutional data please contact the IT Solutions Centre so that we can arrange for the media to be securely erased (403-329-2490 or help@uleth.ca).
  • If you find portable media that is "lost", do not insert/plug it in to your computer, as it may contain a virus that could infect your computer silently.

 If you have questions about portable device security, please contact the IT Solutions Centre (329-2490 or help@uleth.ca)