Imagine this scenario: You’re coming back from a business trip on a red-eye flight and you’ve got all your luggage with you, plus your briefcase with your laptop in it. You manage to get through the airport, catch a taxi to your office, and head up the stairs to your 9:00 AM meeting. You’re pleasantly surprised you were still able to make it on time, and despite how hectic the past few hours have been, you’re ready to have a productive day—that is, until you reach into your briefcase and realize your laptop isn’t there.

What happened? Did you leave it somewhere behind you, either in the airport or in the backseat of the taxi?

Or worse, could somebody have stolen it?

All of a sudden, the productive day you were set to have has been sidelined by the stressful ordeal of trying to minimize the damage you could incur from having your work computer fall into the wrong hands (and everything they will have access to because of it).

The reality is that this situation will never be a pleasant one, but there are certainly ways that you can make a lost or stolen laptop less of a major problem. Your strategy is twofold: It starts with precautionary steps you take before your laptop or smartphone ever leaves your person (in other words, preventative measures), and it continues with the reactionary steps you take if and when your device does get lost.

Here are the steps you should take:

Begin with a strong password for everything

If your device is protected by a strong password, there’s a good chance that whoever stole it won’t be able to log on in the first place. But remember that what might seem like a strong password to you could be easily solvable by someone who knows what they’re doing. Make your password at least eight characters long, and be sure to include a combination of lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid spelling out any real words, or using any words or number combinations that people might associate with you (In other words, don’t use your birthday as your number combination).

One way that modern devices are putting up stronger protections against theft is the way they lock after several failed attempts. Some devices will even erase all personal data after too many unsuccessful logins.

Enable the “Find My Phone” feature

No matter what kind of device you have, whether it’s a laptop or a phone, whether it’s an Apple product or a Windows product, you’ll likely be able to turn on the “Find My Phone” feature under the settings. If this feature is turned on and you ever need to figure out the location of your device, you can check from another computer or phone to see on a map where it is. While this is convenient, there’s the potential it won’t be helpful if your device is in the hands of a thief who turned it off.

Always act fast

If your device was stolen or has been picked up by somebody unethical, you have only a few minutes before they remove the SIM card or stash your device away in a place where there’s no WiFi service. In this event, it suddenly becomes much harder to locate your device with the “Find My Device” feature or to erase any of your sensitive data.

Encrypted the data on your hard drive

Enable Bitlocker encryption on your hard drive to protect your data. Bitlocker is included on all PC’s  running Windows 10 or 11 Professional. Bitlocker can be enabled at any time and helps mitigate the ability to read or access the data stored on the device.

Report the loss and change your passwords

In addition to reporting the theft to the police, you should also let your service provider know. Your service provider will be able to put a stop to your device’s service so that nobody is able to use it. Your service provider may also be able to mark the phone as unusable, meaning that the thief can’t use your device with service from a different carrier or even put a different SIM card in the device.

The last step you can take to minimize the damage is to go in and change all the major passwords that might have been saved on your computer—not only your email and social media accounts but also your online banking and any other highly sensitive pages. Monitor portals like your online banking over the next few weeks to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.

Our team at Gryphon Consulting is here to provide the technological guidance you need to successfully run your business. Reach out to us today by calling 410-789-1029.