A stolen notebook can mean more than just lost hardware. If you've got sensitive data on the hard drive, someone could find out more about your business than you want them to know.
PC Guardian's new Road Guardian Professional package can help. It bundles a security cable with encryption software, to protect both your notebook and its data.
You can buy the software and the cable separately, but the total cost will be about US$170. The Road Guardian Professional bundle costs $99.95. All PC Guardian products are available only through the company's Web site.
The cable, separately sold as the Notebook Guardian 2000, is a 6-foot, 1/4-inch steel cable sheathed in polyvinyl. One end of the Guardian 2000 is a key-based lock that attaches to your notebook's security slot; if your notebook doesn't have this slot, the cable won't do much good.
When securing your notebook, you loop the other end around something that's either stationary or very difficult to move (a burglar who wants to sneak off with a notebook will look rather conspicuous carrying a desk).
The Notebook Guardian 2000 is intended for travel, weighing little more than half a pound. But there's only so much security that a half-pound, 1/4-inch cable can offer. It won't stop a well-equipped professional thief, but it will make an amateur in a hurry look for something easier to take.
If your notebook is stolen, the Road Guardian Professional's trio of encryption programs should keep the thieves from making use of its contents. And you don't have to be carrying government secrets to be concerned: stolen notebooks are a common gateway for illegally accessing corporate servers.
One of the programs, Encryption Plus Folders, encrypts and decrypts folders on the fly. If you know the password, you can access the folders and their files transparently. If you don't, you won't even know the folders exist. You could find them if you drop down to DOS, but encryption will make the files unreadable.
The other two programs, Encryption Plus Email and Encryption Plus Secure Export, compress and encrypt files so you can easily and securely upload, download, and e-mail them. The programs create their archives as self-extracting executables, relieving the recipient of the need to have the software.
Why is this different from what WinZip or any other .zip compression program can do? The PC Guardian programs offer 192-bit Blowfish encryption, which is extremely difficult to break. By comparison, you can download software that will break a .zip file's encryption. Encryption Plus Email is a Microsoft Outlook add-in for e-mailing secure files; Secure Export is a stand-alone program that works with any e-mail program.