March 19, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 89  

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Laptop theft-demic

By Marshall Bellamy and Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

The Campus Communit Police Service and Information Technology Services are trying to get the message out about computer security after yet another theft — this time, the stolen laptop contained four years of work on a PhD thesis, which was not backed up.

“Back up, back up, back up — or make a hard copy, print it out,” said Ellen Smout from ITS’ network security office. “There’s virtually nothing we can do,” she said. “[The data] will be erased, the system will be sold.”

“You should always back up the information you have,” explained CCPS director Elgin Austen. “You can lose information in a lot of different ways.”
“Don’t leave [laptops] unattended. A high percentage of thefts happen that way,” Smout added.

Laptops tend to be stolen on campus an average of once every couple weeks, Austen said, adding laptop thieves also tend to be strangers on campus. “There will be the occasional person out of a university of 35,000 who will be scoping campus.”

“As soon as you get devices like these — people want to steal them,” he noted, pointing out that many laptops are quickly sold for drugs.

Smout reported that last week ITS released a document listing several ways to keep your computer safe.

“The message we were trying to get out in our document is that this is the worst time — there’s no good time, but this is when the pressure is on to get good grades and finish school,” she said.

The document advises students to not leave laptops unattended, backing up data and testing it periodically, remembering the serial number of your laptop and protecting your data on the computer with a password.

“I take it everywhere, like to the bathroom,” said third-year political science student Jessica De Pauw of her laptop. “I would never leave it unattended.”

Austen added that if students see a suspicious person on campus they should call CCPS at 661-3300. “That’s what we’re here for.”



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