Help Desk

Computing & Information Services

Protect Your Computer From Theft

Theft of computers is on the rise, especially as mobile devices, such as laptops, are becoming more and more prevalent. There's not much you can do to prevent a determined thief from stealing your computer, but there are steps you can take to greatly reduce your chances of becoming a target:

  1. The most important thing you can do is to protect the integrity of your data by making regular backups, encrypting confidential data, and deleting other sensitive information stored on your computer.
  2. Disable auto-login and password protect your screen saver or log out of your computer when not in use.
  3. If you have a desktop computer, please turn it off completely before you leave campus at the end of the day as well as before weekends and holidays.
  4. Do not leave keys for file cabinets, drawers, or security cables on, in, or near your desk. If you can find your keys easily, so can a thief.
  5. During the day, it is imperative to use a security cable to lock down portable equipment, such as a laptop, even while working on them. A security cable will discourage a casual thief who walks by. They aren't foolproof since they can be cut with the right tools, but they will slow down a thief.
  6. Do NOT rely on a security cable overnight! Instead, store portable devices in a locked cabinet overnight and during weekends/holidays. If you need a lockable cabinet, talk to Facilities Services. Don't take equipment home as a security measure—only do this if you need to work from home. If you do not have a safe place to store your college-owned laptop, CIS can store it for you; just contact the Computer Shop (ETC 114; ext. 7277) to make arrangements to drop it off and retrieve it.
  7. Lock down other valuable equipment such as desktop computers, scanners and printers. Lock equipment to large, immobile objects and make sure the cable can't be slipped off or easily removed by taking apart furniture. 
  8. Keep doors and windows locked when not in your office.
  9. Keep computer equipment out of plain sight of windows (both in your office and in vehicles, when applicable).
  10. For personal equipment, mark your contact information permanently on the device. Etchers are available from Community Safety.
  11. Make note of the serial numbers of your personal equipment and keep it in a safe place so you can easily report it to the police.
  12. If you are traveling, please keep your computer with you rather than putting it into checked luggage.

For college-owned equipment, the Hardware Shop will provide security cables upon request. For personal equipment, security locks can be purchased from the Bookstore.

If you have questions about securing your equipment or want a security review, talk to Computer User Services (contact: cus@reed.edu or ext. 7525).