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Anti-theft and security for laptops
We remind you that if the thief removes the hard disk or SSD and places his disk, he can immediately reuse the laptop without problems, making recovery or any type of anti-theft impossible. What we will focus on is make it impossible to log in to Windows 10, protect programs with personal data and encrypt the disk, so that at least our personal data are safe, so as not to suffer identity theft or theft of money from current accounts or e-commerce sites.
The first security system we recommend you activate is Bitlocker, incluso in Windows 10 Pro and usable for free.
By activating Bilocker all the contents of the disk will be encrypted and it will not be possible to view it with a Linux distribution or with other recovery tools not generated by the operating system itself. In fact, with this encryption, no one will ever be able to recover personal data, files, or folders on the internal disk without directly accessing the operating system.
To activate Bitlocker we open the Start menu at the bottom left, type Bitlocker, open the Bitlocker Management program, and, in the new window, press on the item Activate Bitlocker to encrypt the disk.
We can also read our guide on this safety system Bitlocker encryption on Windows 10 and 7 for disks and USB drives.
Associate a Microsoft account online with your PC
To increase the security of Bitlocker and prevent anyone from accessing the Windows 10 system we must not use a simple local account (easy to hack), but we must add a registered Microsoft account to the system, so as to encrypt the user’s access files and make it impossible for the thief to access.
To do so, open the Start menu, go to the app Settings, let’s open the menu Account and, in the section Your info, we press on the item Sign in with a Microsoft account; now we enter the login credentials of a Microsoft account that we know, so as to encrypt the account login and make it de facto unrecoverable; if access with a password is too inconvenient we can always set a security PIN, taking us to the screen Access options and pressing on PIN in Windows Hello.
We can learn more about the advantages of Microsoft’s online account on Windows by reading our article Why use Microsoft account in Windows 10.
Enable access via USB stick
Another effective security method as anti-theft on Windows 10 involves the use of a USB key as a method of accessing our Microsoft account: by inserting the key into the PC we will immediately have access to our account (after entering the PIN), while removing it the account will be immediately blocked and will not be accessible unless the key is inserted again. To create the access key, let’s get a small USB pen (16 GB is enough), let’s take the path again Settings -> Accounts -> Login options, and this time we press on Security key.
In this way, even if the thief were to steal the PC and guess the password or the access PIN he will not be able to access it without the USB stick (which we will obviously have to store carefully and keep away from the notebook when not in use).
Enable Find My Device
On Windows 10 there is an anti-theft and tracking system called Find my device, which uses the Internet connection to locate the lost device and possibly track it down or block it remotely.
To enable it, open the Start menu, search and open the app Settings, click on the menu Update and security, let’s get to the menu Find my device, we enable the voice Enable location setting and finally we press the button Edit, so as to be able to activate the anti-theft system managed by a Microsoft account.
If we have lost the laptop, we immediately access the Microsoft Devices screen from another PC or smartphone, press the Find my device tab, and press the Find button to locate it. On some PCs (Surface) this tracking system works even when the PC is turned off: it will be turned on for localization through a hardware security system (which always leaves the Wi-Fi on and ready to connect).
If we are afraid that the stolen laptop is still on and someone may have access to the account, from the same location screen (seen above) we can lock Windows remotely by pressing on Block next to the device name and pressing Forward.
Lock the PC if we walk away
With Windows 10 we can make access to a laptop even safer by locking the account as soon as we get up and leave the workstation or the place where we are. To proceed, let’s take the path again Settings -> Accounts -> Login options, let’s go to the section this time Dynamic lock and check the item Allow Windows to automatically lock your device when you’re not around.
By subsequently pressing on Bluetooth and other devices we can configure the devices to be used for dynamic blocking; for example, we can pair our phone with Bluetooth and, as soon as we go out of range, lock the computer.
On this topic, we can also read our guide Lock your PC with your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Activate third-party anti-theft
If the security systems shown so far are not sufficient to protect the computer from thieves, we can install the anti-theft on Windows 10 Prey, downloadable from the official website.
By installing this program on the computer, adding a Prey account, and providing all the required permissions (localization, administrative access, and system service) we will be able to track down the lost laptop (if still on), send a sound alert, or block it remotely directly from the interface of the site.
Prey is an excellent anti-theft system also for mobile devices, as also seen in our guide Anti-theft for smartphones that lock, locates, and erases memory.
Using these security methods will allow you to activate various anti-theft devices for laptops, although as we know they are valid up to a certain point: if the thief immediately turns off the computer and removes the disk, the notebook is lost; these systems are therefore only useful to avoid personal information leakage and identity theft.
To monitor the use of your PC and record everything that happens in front of the notebook, we recommend that you read our guides Find out who enters the PC and if we are spied on the computer e Record PC activities to monitor and spy on the use of a computer.