All of the same things that make your laptop easy to carry around also make it an attractive target for thieves. Still others are damaged when they drop onto a solid floor or bang against a desk or other hard surface. Therefore, it's absolutely essential that you take steps to make your own laptop safe and secure.
Most new laptop computers come with special security features and software, but many of those features do more to protect the data stored on the computer than the computer itself. It may be reassuring to know that a thief can't read your private files, but that doesn't recover your stolen machine.
Look for these security features on a new laptop computer:
Universal Security Slot: Most laptops have a security slot near one of the back corners of the computer (some makers call it a security keyhole). This slot is a receptacle for a cable lock that you can use to attach the computer to a table leg or other solid object while it's in use, or when it's unattended in a hotel room or other location.
Motion sensor: In some new laptops, an accelerometer detects sudden motion that occurs when you drop the computer, or somebody trips over a cable and pulls it off the tabletop. When this occurs, the built-in protection system immediately stops the disk drive and locks the heads to reduce the threat of damage from a sudden impact. This won't protect your computer against damage to the case or the screen, but it can probably keep the data on the drive intact.
Fingerprint reader: Several laptop makers offer an optional fingerprint reader as an additional security feature, and others are available as external devices that connect through a USB port. When a fingerprint reader is active, a user can pass one finger across a built-in scanner; if the security software recognizes the fingerprint, it automatically enters a matching user ID and password to the Windows login or any other program or service that requires password access.
Encrypted disk drive: At least one disk drive manufacturer offers a drive for portable computers that stores all data in encrypted form. The drive requires a password before a user can gain access to any of the data or programs stored on it.
Look for more about protecting the physical security of your laptop computer in Chapter 48.