Laptop security on the road

Protecting laptop computers from theft often involves common-sense measures. The most basic of these requires treating the laptop as though it were cash. Just as you would not leave a few thousand dollars in cash on the seat of your car or on the bed in a hotel room, you should not leave a laptop lying around – a laptop should be treated as the valuable item that it is. More important than the worth of the laptop, however, is probably the information stored on it.

Business travelers need to take extra precautions with laptops. Some suggestions for safeguarding them while traveling include:

  • Thieves can identify laptops by their carrying cases. If practical, carry the laptop in a nondescript case, such as a briefcase, that does not readily identify it as a computer.
  • When carrying a laptop in its bag, walk with your hand directly on the bag strap, with the bag slightly in front of you. This makes it difficult for "snatch-and-grab" attackers who attempt to slip the bag off your shoulder while racing by in the other direction.
  • Do not ask a stranger to watch your laptop while you make a phone call, go to the restroom, throw something away, or get something to eat. Thieves are everywhere and can look very business-like and trustworthy.
  • Beware of common distraction scams in which someone jostles you, asks you for the time or change, or even "accidentally" spills something on you while an accomplice takes the laptop.
  • Avoid leaving your laptop in an unattended vehicle. If you must leave it in the vehicle, lock it in the trunk, but do not wait until you get to your destination to lock it in the trunk, since someone may be watching.
  • Place the laptop in front of you or on the counter while conducting transactions at a hotel, airline, or car rental desk – do not leave it on the floor.
  • Never check laptops as luggage. If not stolen, they may be damaged by rough handling.
  • Airport security checkpoints are now requiring that laptops be removed from their case and scanned separately. Try to keep the laptop in sight; do not place it on the conveyor belt for the X-ray scanner unless you can get through the metal detector portal immediately.
  • Take your laptop with you when you go to lunch at meetings. Do not leave it in the meeting room.
  • If you are using your laptop for a presentation, do not leave it in the presentation room overnight or when you go to lunch.
  • In your hotel room, use the hotel safe to protect your laptop. If a safe is not provided and you must leave it in your room, do not advertise its presence: put it in the bag, in your luggage, or in a drawer; preferably, take it with you.
  • Attach a sticker or business card on the laptop with identification and contact information in the event that the unit is lost or stolen. Many lost laptops are returned to their owners when there is information about how to contact the owner on the equipment.
  • Back up and, where possible, encrypt the data on the laptop so that if it is stolen, it is not able to be used, sold to others, or have the information accessed.


Copyright ©2017, ISO Services Properties, Inc.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. By providing this information to you. The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

LC JAN 2019 10-184
171-0980 (01/19)