Laptops vs tablets: the secrity aspect

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Whether you carry a laptop or just a tablet around is a personal choice that is normally based on what features you need to have access to on the go. However, there is another issue to be taken into account; security.

When it comes to security, laptops are somewhat ironic. While they have the potential to be so much more secure than a tablet through various encryptions and security features, the sad truth is that most consumer laptops are a heck of a lot less secure than a tablet. If you look at a typical laptop, it will run Windows and have the Windows login password as its only defense against outside intrusion. What most people don’t know is that such password protection doesn’t really protect anything at all since you can just access the hard drive in some other way and still get access to all the files. Heck, I have the tools to do that in my wallet in shape of a bootable flash drive with a few Live installs of Linux. If that’s to complicated, $10 will buy you an external hard drive enclosure which will let you access a laptop hard drive using another device. basically, anything that’s on your laptop isn’t secure at all unless you start using security features that very few people ever use.

Then you have tablets. While I’m sure there are ways to circumvent the code locks on tablets, it certainly isn’t something you can do with a “common man’s flash drive” or a $10 hard drive enclosure. Because Android, iOS, WebOS and Blackberry OS is so locked down in comparison, all those initial security issues go away.

That isn’t the only difference though, and not the most important one. If your laptop gets stolen, you have rather little chance of getting it back. Maybe the thief is stupid enough to use the laptop with the current OS and you have some sort of tracker software installed, but your chances are generally low. With the iPad (I don’t know if there are any similar systems on Android) however, you have a device that you can remote track and control. Assuming you have the 3G model, you can track it in real time using the built in GPS from any browser. You can see where the thief is going, contact the police, and then go after the guy yourself when the police turns you down. You can remotely lock the device to prevent the thief from getting access (or even turn off the device- it’s not like you can rip out the battery either) and when you get close, you can activate an alarm that will make the iPad emit a sound, volume settings be damned.You can also make a popup message appear on screen, telling the thief to hand it over. If all else fails, you can remotely wipe the device using the system. At that point of course the thief might be startled enough to smash it, but there have been untold numbers of successful retrievals because of this system.

This system is worth gold to me personally, and I never worry about data on my iPhone or iPad because I know these systems are in place. Whenever I carry my laptop the story is different, even though I actually have deeper encryption in place for sensitive files. Of course you should always be careful no matter what device you’re carrying, but it helps to know that everything isn’t over if you should happen to be robbed or lose your device.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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