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Monday, September 19, 2005

Wireless NoteBook Security

By: Eric Robert Meyer

Physical Security

1 Cable Locks – The majority of laptops are equipped with a Universal Security Slot (USS). This is like a bike lock for a laptop. One end connects to the computer and the other end will be secured to an unmovable / indestructible object. Cable locks will not stop a thief with bolt cutters but will prevent a grab and run type theft.

2. Use a Docking Station – Docking stations will lock down your laptop when in the office where the majority of thefts happen. Cleaning staff, outside contractors, customers and fellow employees can all be tempted to perform a crime of opportunity. As the old saying goes locks are meant to keep honest people honest. (continued...)

3. Metal Asset Tags- Engraving – Thieves are often caught with equipment that the police know are stolen property. The problem is that it can’t be returned due to lack of information. Engraving and asset tags will provide proof that it is stolen and possibly get your laptop returned to you. Also, Write down your serial number and register the laptop with the manufacture.

4. Use a Back Pack – Don’t use a laptop carrying case, use a back pack to carry your laptop. Laptop carrying cases might as well scream steal me to a thief. Professional theft rings make their living stealing from passengers in airports, bus stations and trains. One common scenario is one female thief will start talking to you, and while you are distracted another thief will steal your laptop. If you use a back pack then it’s less obvious what you are carrying.

5. Lock up your PCMICA card - A PCMICA card is even easier to steal then a laptop. PCMICA cards can be very expensive and easily sold on EBAY.

6. Use Tracking Software – Tracking software is set to automatically call a specific service at set times. If the laptop is stolen then the tracking software will report back with an IP address which will give the tracking service an address.

7. Double Lock System – If you must store your laptop in a room use the double lock theory. Lock the laptop in a cabinet / safe then lock the door. Thieves will often have access to the room but not enough time to get through a second lock.

Operating System Security

1. Use a Firewall – If you don’t have a firewall on, you are just asking for problems. Cheap Personal firewalls are available that will make your computer invisible to hackers. Norton Personal firewall, Zone Alarm, Black Ice are commercial firewalls some even have free versions. Windows XP SP2 comes with a built in firewall just click control panel – firewall – and turn the firewall on.

2. Disable your guest account- This will prevent anyone from logging on as guest

3. Disable Remote Desktop Sharing

4. Change the Administrator Accounts Name

5. Enable a BIOS Password - Disable booting from the CD Drive or floppy

6. Log Off- Simple Enough

7. Screen Saver Password – Enable a screen saver password on resume and have a short time out period for the screen saver

8. Back up Using Ghost – Before you go on a trip make a complete image of your operating system and a separate back up for your files. If your laptop is stolen all the information will still be available.

Rogue Access Points – Don’t connect to a rogue access point. A rogue access point will simulate a pay as you go wireless service like Boingo Wireless. A mobile user will connect to the access point, when they try to surf the internet they will be asked for a credit card number and other personal information. Other rogue access points are meant to infect your computer with Trojan Horse viruses so the hacker can remotely control your computer.

VPN - Use a VPN to connect to you work network. VPN's will encrypt all your network traffic while you are connected to the hotspot. If you don't use a VPN another hotspot user can watch all your web surfing and emails with a network sniffer.

Email – Check with your ISP to insure that your email traffic is secure. Many POP3 email accounts are not encrypted which means all emails are sent in plain text.

Eric Robert Meyer is an expert in wireless networking. You can sign up for the wireless ninja newletter at http://www.wirelessninja.com and receive the latest information on the world of wireless technology.

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