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Author Topic: Be a PC Crime Fighter: Keep Your Hardware Safe  (Read 3676 times)

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Be a PC Crime Fighter: Keep Your Hardware Safe
« on: 27. May 2007., 10:29:05 »
A variety of products and strategies will protect your PC from theft.

Be a PC Crime Fighter: Keep Your Hardware Safe
Illustration: Stuart Bradford; Photograph: Marc Simon

"Only the Paranoid Survive."

What Intel's Andy Grove said years ago about the computer industry applies to computer owners as well. All the firewalls, virus scanners, and antispyware apps in the world won't do you any good if a bad guy has physical access to your PC. Use these tips, gadgets, and utilities to raise the shields on your hardware.

Lock down your PC: While notebooks have long been a prime target for thieves (see "Eight Tips for Holding Onto or Recovering Your Laptop"), desktop PCs are also vulnerable. Kensington, PC Guardian, and Targus offer products for physically securing your PC to a desk, wall, or other fixture. But since a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, make sure your anchor point is solid. Anchor points that attach via adhesive bonds may cost less, but I prefer a device like Targus's $47 Defcon Worksurface Lock, which bolts to a desk or other surface (see Figure 1 ).

You'll also want to protect your PC's memory modules, its graphics cards, and especially its hard drives. Your local computer shop should sell locks--priced at about $15--that secure your PC's case by blocking one of its chassis screw holes. If you're planning to buy or build a high-end PC, invest in a case with a lock.

Plug your memory holes: Your system's floppy and writable optical drives, as well as USB thumb drives and other types of external storage, make it easy for thieves to remove large amounts of data from your PC. makes several locks that physically block access to floppy drives, optical drives, and media-card readers. For $23 you can buy a four-pack of small locks for your USB ports from Lindy.

If you don't feel the need for a physical lock, you could try the $15 USB Lock AP utility, which controls access to your PC's USB ports and optical drives through an easy-to-use interface. And if you don't want to spend any money, Windows lets you disable almost any piece of hardware via Device Manager: Right-click My Computer, select Manage, Device Manager, double-click the drive or port you want to disable, and under 'Device usage' select Do not use this device (disable) (see Figure 2). However, be aware that this technique would merely slow down a data thief, who could reverse the changes using any administrator account on the system.

Block the Boot

Stop intruders before Windows loads by enabling the startup password in your PC Setup program. Before you set a CMOS password for the first time, check your system's manual or the vendor's Web site for the password-reset procedure. Then enter the setup program by pressing the indicated key as your PC starts (but before Windows loads), and look for a password option.

A boot password is an effective way to keep the casual snooper out of your desktop PC or laptop. Still, unless you've locked your case, a determined interloper could reset the password by adjusting a jumper on the motherboard.

Keep your guard up: A CMOS password protects the computer when it's turned off, but isn't very handy if you want to step away from your PC while it's running. Many screen savers offer password protection, but for an added level of security, use a USB security token such as the $130 SecuriKey Professional from Griffin Technologies). When you remove the key from its USB port, your PC automatically locks until the key is replaced. Do-it-yourselfers can save some money by turning an ordinary USB key drive into a security token with the $5 TokenKey utility from (DefendGate).

Got Crypto? The best way to keep your sensitive data unseen is to encrypt it. (Click here for our roundup of encryption programs.) Hardware-based encryption products such as Kensington's $70 PCKey add another level of protection by combining software encryption with a USB token key. I also like Addonics's Saturn Cipher hard-drive enclosures, which incorporate a chip that seamlessly encrypts an entire hard drive with almost no setup or maintenance. The enclosures cost from $59 to $139. Each unit comes with two hardware keys that you use to access the drive. But remember, if you lose those keys, you lose the data. Check here to read about new self-encrypting notebook drives coming soon from Hitachi and Seagate (scroll down the page to "Auto-Encryption").

Watch for Snoops

Rogue keylogger programs aren't the only way for hackers to capture your passwords, e-mails, and other keyboard input; KeyKatcher from Allen Concepts ( records keystrokes in a small device that fits between your keyboard cable and its PS2 or USB port on your PC. Use it to monitor keystrokes on your PC while you're away. The device costs $69 with 64KB of storage and $119 with 256KB.

Use one finger to rule them all: To control access without using a password, try Microsoft's $40 Fingerprint Reader; see Figure 3). Just swipe your finger instead of typing a password. Andrew Brandt offers tips on using these products.

Get a good grind: You shred your sensitive paper documents, but what can you do to destroy the sensitive data on CDs and DVDs headed for the trash? Aleratec makes CD/DVD shredders that you can find online for as little as $37. (See the Security Tips column on for more ways to zap your digital data before you trash a disc.)

If all else fails, get some exorcise: Is your PC haunted? Many computers certainly act as if they are. Check your system with GhostRadar, a USB device that "detects paranormal energies." Unfortunately, we couldn't rigorously test this device--though we've got a call in to Bill Murray.

Protect Yourself

Let your Webcam be your eyes and ears while you're away from home or the office. A simple Webcam costs about $20, and a good surveillance-software package with motion and sound sensors, video recording, and remote viewing from any PC with an Internet connection can be purchased for less than $50. NovoSun's free SurveillizCam Lite provides basic video recording triggered by motion sensors, but for remote viewing and audio monitoring, you need a full-featured program such as DeskShare's $50 WebCam Monitor (free trial available here).

For more-sophisticated security, IP cameras can be placed anywhere inside or outside your home or office to transmit their images to your PC over an ethernet or Wi-Fi network. D-Link's $152 DCS-G900 wireless IP camera, for example, lets you view the video it captures in any standard browser (see Figure 4).

An important consideration when you're shopping for an IP camera is how it will be powered. Cameras that connect to a Wi-Fi network avoid the hassle of running ethernet cables, but they aren't really wireless because they require that you run a power line to them. Devices that support the new Power over Ethernet standard--or IEEE 802.3--need an ethernet cable, but they draw power from the cable, which eliminates the need to use a separate power line.

Eight Tips for Holding Onto or Recovering Your Laptop

According to the FBI Computer Crime Survey of over 2000 firms, more dollars were lost in 2005 due to notebook-PC theft than from any other computer crime except viruses. What can you do to avoid becoming a statistic? Lots.

Stay in touch: You can't keep your eyes on your laptop at every moment, so rest a hand, finger, or other body part on your computer when you glance away.

Keep a low profile: Notebook carrying cases that look like notebook carrying cases might as well sport a sign saying "steal me." Carry your laptop in an unobtrusive bag or backpack.

Lock and load: Most notebooks come with a locking port that connects to cable locks made by Kensington and other companies. If your machine doesn't have a locking port but does have a VGA connector, you can batten it down with the $30 Defcon Video Port Key Lock from Targus. The device securely attaches a locking cable to any VGA port.

Be a screamer: Designed for when you're on the go, Targus's $50 Defcon 1 Ultra Notebook Computer Security System has a motion sensor that triggers an ear-piercing shriek whenever your laptop is moved. The device is great for airports and restaurants, but it can be embarrassing when triggered inadvertently.

Cover it up: Lock up your laptop while it's in the car with the $99 Ncase Portable Safe ( To avoid broken windows, throw a newspaper or T-shirt over any valuable item to hide it and keep thieves from being tempted.

Leave your mark: Write down your notebook's serial number and make an identifying scratch or mark to help identify the system if it's stolen. For $26, STOP (Security Tracking of Office Property) provides a hard-to-remove ID label for your laptop and lifetime tracking and notification if it is ever lost and then found (see Figure 5). The label acts as a theft deterrent--removing it reveals a "stolen property" tattoo burned into the case--but the service might be most valuable as an easy way for honest folks to return a lost laptop.

Release the hounds: Several services find lost notebooks by tracking down the Internet connections the devices make after they're stolen. The services install a program on the notebook that contacts a data center when the PC goes online after it's been reported lost or stolen. They also can delete some or all of the data on the hard drive if the machine has been reported stolen.

Absolute Software's Computrace LoJack for Laptops takes advantage of a feature in the BIOSs of many notebooks made in the last year by Dell, Gateway, and other major vendors that lets the unit be traced even if tech-savvy thieves replace the system's hard drive or reinstall the operating system. Check with the manufacturer to see if your system's BIOS supports Computrace. The service costs $50 for a year's subscription, or $100 for three years.

Check your coverage: If your homeowner or other insurance policies don't cover stolen notebooks, see if you can add coverage, or get a quote for laptop insurance from Safeware.

PC World

Samker's Computer Forum -

Be a PC Crime Fighter: Keep Your Hardware Safe
« on: 27. May 2007., 10:29:05 »


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Re: Be a PC Crime Fighter: Keep Your Hardware Safe
« Reply #1 on: 18. June 2010., 11:57:24 »
Normally hiding process is good...But its from the hiding by software process is good? I need the best hiding process... Also i check the ip address details and speed test from here @ free of costs...

Samker's Computer Forum -

Re: Be a PC Crime Fighter: Keep Your Hardware Safe
« Reply #1 on: 18. June 2010., 11:57:24 »


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