Prevent Computer Theft with Kensington Locks and Other Security Devices

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There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Kensington locks, but you might not know what they are and might never have seen one. A Kensington lock is a special kind of lock made for securing expensive electronic equipment.

Though they are typically used to secure relatively small mobile equipment such as notebook computers and projectors, Kensington locks can also be used to secure desktop systems and monitors. Anything that can be picked up easily and carried off should have a Kensington lock on it. But it would obviously be difficult for someone to casually make off with a large printer or desktop computer tower—although even this sort of theft falls into the realm of the possible.

Most computer equipment features a Kensington lock slot. The slot, which is a small rectangular hole that’s usually located on the back of equipment, typically goes through both the plastic exterior of a chassis and through an inner metal panel to give it strength. The business end of a Kensington lock has a T-shaped protuberance that goes through the lock slot and is then turned 90 degrees and locked in place so that it can’t be removed without damaging the equipment. A cable attached to the lock is then used to secure the equipment to something immovable such as a pipe or a piece of furniture.

Kensington locks are not infallible. Depending on the thickness of the lock and cable, anyone with bolt cutters, heavy duty wire cutters or an axe could easily defeat them. And you could probably smash the lock right off the equipment with a hammer. But the damage caused by these mega-snips and impacts would make it obvious that the item was stolen and make it more difficult to sell. Most equipment is stolen from an environment where it’s picked up and concealed quickly and easily. A Kensington lock is simply a deterrent to theft, something that will make would-be thieves think twice before stealing. Anyone seen wielding a pair of bolt cutters or other tools of the trade in an environment where computers and electronics are used will likely attract a great deal of attention.

Kensington locks are typically used in libraries, dorms, colleges, businesses and government offices—but there’s no reason you can’t use one at home, at business meetings, in hotels, at conferences and various other places.

B&H carries an extensive line of Kensington locks. Most of them are fairly generic, but some are designed for special purposes such as the MicroSaver Keyed Projector Lock that’s designed to secure projectors in conference rooms. Sharp even makes security cables for specific models of its projectors.

Most Kensington locks use keys, so that only holders of the keys can unleash the equipment, but some have combination locks instead of keys, so that you can give out the combination to any trusted individual. The combination can always be changed if anyone in possession of it becomes untrustworthy.

Most locks are for one piece of gear only, but the Kensington ClickSafe Twin Keyed Laptop Lock can secure two devices at once. The term Kensington Lock is often used to describe any similar kind of lock regardless of the manufacturer. Belkin, InFocus, Peerless and Targus offer similar items.

There are also locks that can be used on equipment that doesn’t have a Kensington slot. They are often used in showrooms to prevent demo equipment from walking off on its own. The Kensington Desktop and Peripherals Locking Kit includes an anchor plate that adheres to equipment using industrial strength adhesive tape, and the Belkin Bulldog Security Kit includes steel plates that attach to equipment using strong glue.

Note that both of those solutions could mar the finish of your equipment if you try to get the plates off. If at all possible, attach the plates in a location that can’t be seen.

Sometimes things haven’t been stolen but they are lost nonetheless. Loc8tor Homing Tags weigh less than 5 grams and can be attached to items such as key chains, remote controls, cell phones, cameras—anything that you misplace often is a good candidate. A credit-card sized handset will guide you via audio and visual cues to any hidden object up to 400 feet away. Just be sure not to misplace the handset itself! You might want to attach an anchor plate and security cable to the handset if you’re the type that misplaces everything.

If you’re at all concerned about computer theft, a Kensington lock is a good place to start. You can get one for less than $30. Determine whether or not your equipment has a Kensington lock slot and then check out the many different security solutions that are available. Any one of them will give you peace of mind.

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