An ounce of prevention

By | 1 March 2012

By Penny Schenk

Unfortunately we’ve had reason to think about the security of laptops and mobile devices in the Law Library recently. While the best way to avoid theft is to secure your laptop with a cable lock when it’s unattended and keep portable devices with you, there are a few steps you can take to assist in the recovery of your property in case the worst happens.

Record your device’s MAC addresses.

MAC addresses are the unique codes that identify your computer on a network, in the format XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX. Each network interface will have one, so there’s one for your wired ethernet connection and another for wi-fi. If your computer is stolen, we can notify OUCS and they will keep an eye out for those unique ID’s on the Oxford network. It doesn’t guarantee anything, but it is worth a try.

Often, laptops will have a sticker on the bottom that shows at least one MAC address, but it is safer to actually verify them. This page has instructions on finding the MAC (also called Hardware) addresses on a number of different devices.

Install software that can help you find your device.

There are applications and apps that can help you if your device is stolen. For Mac/iPhone/iPad users, the easiest option is probably the Find My Mac feature of iCloud. If you haven’t already, you need to activate iCloud on your device, then turn on Find My Mac. This will give you some tools to locate the missing device, or, you can lock or wipe it remotely to protect your data.

Other options:

Open source software Prey (Windows, Apple (Mac OS X and iOS), Android and Linux)

GadgetTrak (Windows, Apple (Mac OS X and iOS), Android, Blackberry)

There are others – please comment if there are any you want to suggest.

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