If you lose your phone ... or your laptop ... or your tablet, what are you really losing? Not just the few hundred dollars it costs to replace the device. Think about what's inside — the personal information, photographs, data. It's a road map to your life. What's that worth to you?
"Airports are one of the top spots for device theft in North America," says Stephen Midgley, vice president of global management and marketing for Absolute Software, a company that specializes in safeguarding and recovering stolen devices.
Today, the average person travels with two or three electronic devices. And that goes for their kids, too.
"People are frazzled and rushed, trying to make their flights," says Midgley. "You tend not to think about your personal devices."
Local news from across Southern California
According to a study by Absolute Software, the highest number of airport area thefts — 24 percent — takes place on board the aircraft. Midgley's advice: always keep your device on your person. If you have to store it, put it under the seat in front of you, not in the overhead compartment.
But there can be plenty of trouble on the ground, too. One common area for device theft is security check in. It's easy to grab a device that's unattended for just a few minutes as you're walking through the metal detectors. Instead, Midgely recommends that when you send your belongings through the x-ray machine, you sandwich it between a bin with your shoes, belt and jacket and your carry-on bag.
And it's not good enough just to have your laptop bag next to your foot while you're waiting in the terminal. Another 15% of device thefts happens here. All it takes is for a thief to walk by and grab your laptop bag while you're looking the other way. Midgley suggests an old technique that still works best: slip your foot through the strap of your laptop bag. If someone tries to grab the bag, he'll get a nasty surprise.
"These are experts," warns Midgely. "These guys make a living doing this. They're very fast — they're faster than you. It's up to you to take the precautions."
And at holiday times, you need to be extra careful. There's a huge increase in the volume of people traveling, everyone is distracted — frantic, stressed and running for flights. The last thing on your mind is your electronic device.
So what can you do to make sure thieves don't get your info even if they do get your devices? First, use a good strong password. It should be alpha numeric, a combination of numbers and letters. And yes, it's one more password in an already password-heavy world. So to make it easier to remember, use a combination of things that are personal — but not just something like your birth date.
Next, make sure you back up your data. Even if your laptop is gone, you'll have your info. And finally — track your device so you can lock it and wipe it clean.