The recommendations/security measures in this document are made as a service to the Jacksonville State University, hereafter called JSU or the University, user community to assist with securing and protecting University owned laptops. Because of their portability, laptops often find their way on to multiple networks where they are exposed to a variety of security threats including worms, viruses, Trojans, etc. They are also particularly susceptible to theft because of their size/portability.
Follow these basic security measures as is stated in the JSU Acceptable Use Policy even when the Laptop is not connected to the JSUNet.
1. Use the NTFS file system - Use the NTFS file system that comes with Windows XP to protect your data from laptop thieves who may try to access your data. FAT and FAT32 File systems don't support file level security and give hackers a big wide open door to your system.
2. Disable the Guest Account - Double check to make sure the guest account is not enabled. For additional security assign a complex password to the account anyway, and restrict its logon 24x7.
3. Rename the Administrator Account - Renaming the Administrator account will stop some amateur hackers cold, and will annoy the more determined ones. Remember that hackers won't know what the inherit or group permissions are for an account, so they'll try to hack any local account they find and then try to hack other accounts as they go to improve their access. If you rename the account, try not to use the word 'Admin" in its name. Pick something that won't sound like it has rights to anything.
4. Create a dummy Administrator account - Another strategy is to create a local account named "Administrator", then giving that account no privileges and impossible to guess +10 digit complex password. If you create a dummy Administrative account, enabled auditing so you'll know when it is being tampered with.
5. Upgrade to Windows Vista - If you cannot upgrade, at the very least, make sure that your operating systems patches are up to date. Windows Vista has built-in security tools that target laptop security.
6. Prevent the last logged-in user name from being displayed - When you press Ctrl-Alt-Del, a login dialog box appears which displays the name of the last user who logged in to the computer, and makes it easier to discover a user name that can later be used in a password-guessing attack. This can be disabled using the security templates provided on the installation CD, or via Group Policy snap in. For more information, see Microsoft KB Article Q310125.
7. Enable EFS (Encrypting File System) - Windows 2000 ships with a powerful encryption system that adds an extra layer of security for drives, folders, or files. This will help prevent a hacker from accessing your files by physically mounting the hard drive on another PC and taking ownership of files. Be sure to enable encryption on Folders, not just files. All files that are placed in that folder will be encrypted. For more information check out our EFS Resource Center
Disable the Infrared Port on you laptop - Most people don't actual transmits data via the infrared port on their laptop, but someone can use the IR port to browse someone else's files from across a conference room table without them knowing it. Disable the IR port via the BIOS, or simply cover it up with a small piece of black electrical tape.
1. Asset Tag or Engrave the laptop - Permanently marking (or engraving) the outer case of the laptop with the University name, address, and phone number may greatly increase your odds of getting it returned to you. Clearly marking your laptops deters casual thieves and may prevent it from simply being resold over the internet via an online auction.
2. Use a Cable Lock - Over 80% of the laptops on the market are equipped with a Universal Security Slot (USS) that allows them to be attached to a cable lock or laptop alarm. Most of these devices are from $30 - $50 and can be found at office supply stores or online. In addition to the quality of the cable, consider the quality of the lock. (Tubular locks are preferable to the common tumbler lock design) And remember: They only work if you use them properly. Tether them to a strong immovable and unbreakable object.
3. Use a docking station - Almost 40% of laptop theft occur in the office. Poorly screened housekeeping staff, contractors, and disgruntled employees are the usual suspects. You can help prevent this by using a docking station that is permanently affixed to your desktop and has a feature which locks the laptop securely in place. If you are leaving it overnight, or for the weekend, lock your laptop in a secure filing cabinet in your office and lock your office door.
4. Lock up your PCMCIA cards - While locking your PC to desk with a cable lock may keep someone from walking away with your laptop, there is little you can do to keep someone from stealing the PCMCIA NIC card or modem that is sticking out of the side of your machine. When not in use, eject these cards from the laptop bay and lock them in a safe place. Your docking station should have a NIC card built into it at your desk, and if you are traveling you won't be connected to the network anyway. Even when they aren't being used, PCMCIA cards still consume battery power and contribute to the heat levels within your laptop while they are left inserted into their slots.
5. Backup your data before you leave - Many times the data on your computer is more expensive to replace than the hardware. Always backup you laptop before you do any extended traveling that may put your data at risk. This doesn't have to take a lot of time, and you can use the built in backup utilities that come with Windows. If your network doesn't have the disk space to backup all of your traveling laptop users, you may wish to look into some of personal backup solutions including external hard drives, CD-R's, and tape backup.
Consider using offline storage for transporting sensitive documents - Backing up your hard drive before you leave can help you retrieve your data when you return from your trip, but it doesn't do you any good when you're still out on the road. There are several vendors that offer inexpensive external storage solutions that can hold anywhere from 40Mb to 30GB of data on a disk small enough to fit easily into your pocket. By having a backup of the files you need with you, you can work from another PC in the event your laptop is damaged or missing. As a plus, many of these devices support password protection and data encryption, so your files will be safe even if you misplace the storage disk. Remember, when traveling keep these disks on your person, not in your laptop case or checked baggage, and be careful when passing through the metal detectors at airport security checkpoints.