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Let’s Get Physical—Road Rules Edition

It’s a new year, so let’s get physical and personal. I wondered what people do about physical security specifically – how do you protect your laptop while on business travel? Hotels, airports, cars, etc. We have all seen that “road rules” can be pretty different, so what precautions do you take to ensure your laptop and devices return home safely?

Do you always carry your laptop? Carry a lock? Have ways to hide it?

It seems like there are no real 100% answers or ‘best’ practices – just least-bad practices, and answers I hear are an interesting mix of personal and technology options. I asked a number of folks and here is what they said. (please comment on your own “least bad” approach)

  1. “I usually carry my laptop. But have left it in an in-room safe and locked in my bag. I don’t leave anything out and visible.”

  2. Hotels: “On rare occasions that I leave it in my room, i leave the Do Not Disturb sign up. Disinformation FTW. I think the real answer is try to travel with tablets and not laptops if possible”

  3. “I try to avoid traveling with a laptop anymore, although I still need it for conferences usually.”

  4. “I use the do not disturb trick, and I never use the hotel safe since that’s the first place they’ll look. I bury my laptop in my clothes bag when I leave it. With an 11-inch MacBook Air, that’s easy. But the truth is it is disposable for me. I’d be out the money, but being well encrypted I don’t worry about data loss. And everything is synced anyway.” I have only been able to do this for the past few years thanks to Dropbox and a few other things. (This one is from our very own Rich Mogull).

  5. “I rarely travel with a laptop, and keep a short lock on iOS devices.”

  6. On TSA: “I don’t care about TSA – nothing to hide. But I do shut down if I’m someplace where I worry about cold boot (China).”

What are your road rules?

—Gunnar

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By Enrique  on  01/15  at  01:22 PM

Laptops/tablets: hidden somewhere. Will use safe for less valuable but important items that can easily be replaced (and if safe gets hit, reduces likelihood that they will look elsewhere).

I generally keep a messy room so the entropy mess keeps valuables harder to spot.

I also use various techniques to determine if someone (maid, whatever) entered room during absence (powder on floor, slightly moved door mat).

For a balcony entrance, I once installed a broom with a shooter glass that would be tripped if the door was even bumped, resulting in a falling broom stick and broken shooter glass on the floor.

Just like infosec, defense in depth baby.

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