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Laptop theft can be reduced by turning off WiFi

02 March 2010

Credant Technologies, the endpoint data security specialist, has warned laptop users to turn off their WiFi signals when not in use to prevent the use of low-cost scanners tracking down the machines.

The advice comes in the wake of a spate of laptop thefts in Jamaica, where the machines are reportedly being involved in online lottery scams, and then discarded.

According to Credant, when a laptop is stowed in a car boot, if it is still on or in the minutes after the lid has been closed - and the machine starts to go into sleep mode - because the WiFi is still on, its location can be tracked even when it is out of sight.

Sean Glynn, the firm's product manager, said that, because the latest laptops have a set time - sometimes up to 30 minutes - before they go fully into sleep mode when the laptop lid is shut, it doesn't take a genius to realise that shopping malls around 6pm on weekdays can be a prime source of potential notebook computers, just waiting to be stolen from cars.

"And whilst the office worker is busy inside the mall doing their shopping, no-one is going to think twice about someone in a suit waving their `car keys' around, ostensibly trying to find their car, when in fact s/he is looking for the strongest WiFi signal", he said.

"You may not be able to totally prevent your laptop being stolen, but only switching on your WiFi when you really need it, and, of course, encrypting your data on the notebook drive, will go a long way to preventing your computer becoming just another statistic", he added.

The issue of low-cost WiFi detecting devices for under £5.00 - and sophisticated detection units for around the £30-00 mark - he says, make the task of scanning for stealable laptops very easy.

"BT Openzone recently announced it had passed the million WiFi access point mark in the UK and cellular carriers are also boosting their WiFi coverage areas to take the load off their hard-pressed 3G networks, which all adds up to something of a WiFi explosion in the UK", he said.

Credant's observations, he added, suggest that the real focus of identity thieves is the company laptop, which, as well as being a saleable item in its own right, can also contain valuable company data that can potentially be sold to the highest bidder online.

 

This article is featured in:
Wireless and Mobile Security

 

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