The feature we love about our mobile devices (laptops, tablets, cell phones, etc.) – mobility – makes them easy targets for thieves. While replacing a stolen mobile device can be expensive, the value of the data it contains may well exceed the cost of the device itself.

Here are a few tips to protect your data on your devices:

  • Treat your device like cash. Imagine a stack of money equal to what your device is worth. Would you leave that amount of money on a coffee shop table while you refresh your latte? Probably not. Picturing your device as a stack of cash will help you to be more vigilant.
  • Encrypt the data. You can protect your personal data even if your device goes missing. There are a number of commercial products available that will prevent your device from even starting up without a password. Some devices (like iPhones) come pre-encrypted by the manufacturers.
  • Keep your passwords elsewhere. Leaving your passwords in your carrying case is like leaving the keys in your car. Memorize your passwords or store them securely elsewhere.
  • Leave your computer bag at home. When you’re on the road, carrying your devices in a computer case may advertise what's inside. Consider using a suitcase, a padded briefcase or a backpack instead.
  • Don't leave it in the car. Not only is the extreme heat and cold in your car bad for your devices, but parked cars are a favorite target of thieves. If you must leave your device in your car, keep it out of sight by placing it in the trunk, glovebox or hidden compartment that can store your device safely.
  • Pay close attention at airport security checkpoints. The chaos and confusion at airport security checkpoints make them perfect for thieves. Additionally, because so many devices can look the same, it is easy to pick up the wrong one. Mark your devices distinctly so that you can easily track it as you go through security. Hold onto it until the person in front of you has gone through the metal detector – and keep an eye out when it emerges on the other side of the detector.
  • Be vigilant in hotels. Try not to leave your devices inside your hotel room while you are out. Instead, take it with you or use the safe in your room if there is one.
  • Report it promptly. If your mobile device is stolen, report it immediately to the local authorities. If it's your business device that's missing, also immediately notify your employer.