Bits & P.C.s: Secure it!

A few years ago, I had a friend whose wife worked for a major corporation. The company had supplied her with a laptop computer. One day, as she arrived at her office and was taking her belongings out of the car, the telephone rang. She ran inside to catch the call only to have the person hang up on her.

When she went back out to the car, the laptop was gone. Coincidence? Probably not. The major loss here was not the laptop itself, but rather the data that it contained including sales figures and other confidential information. It’s not known if the thief knew what was on the computer, but to a competitor, the information would have been priceless.

Of course, the obvious lesson here is to never leave your computer where it can be stolen. But what can you do to protect your data if the computer is stolen, or you have the computer placed where others have access to it?

The first solution is a device from iConcepts named the USB PC Security Lock. This $15 device plugs into the USB port on a laptop or desktop computer. Unless the key is attached or a backup password is used, the computer cannot be accessed.

An even better solution is the BioPod from American Power Conversion (APC). This device also attaches to the USB port on your computer, but unlike the iConcepts device, the BioPod acts as a password manager.

The BioPod is a biometric device that uses your fingerprint to give you accesses to your computer, Web pages and files. The password manager will allow you to register up to 20y different fingers whether they are all from one person or 20 different people. Just think, you will never have to remember passwords again. You can use a different password for everything, and the computer will remember them for you. The passwords are saved in an encrypted file on the computer, and the software will let you copy the file to a floppy for safe keeping.

Since it supports the fast user switching of Windows XP, you can quickly switch between users by logging on with a different finger. This device will not allow access to the computer unless the finger has been enrolled, making it an ideal solution to keep others from using your computer.

The included software will also allow you to encrypt your data, and since it remembers the password, you can unlock your files with your finger. The device is smaller than a computer mouse, so it can be carried with you. If the computer is stolen and with the files encrypted, they will be unusable unless they take your hands along.

Since you always have your fingers with you, there is no worry about forgetting keys at home. If you lose or break the BioPod, you can purchase another without losing your data.

The BioPod retails for $50 and comes with a two-year warranty. If you’ve always wanted to secure your computer, now is your chance.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times, e-mail, or call 243-1162.

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