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MacBook08
Nov 30, 2010, 04:18 PM
College student living in college dorms for two more quarters.

How would I keep an Air safe when I'm not around (besides taking it everywhere I go, buying a safe, or buying a locking file cabinet)?

I know of some anti-theft bags but many of them are full-blown backpacks or messenger bags. Something smaller would be nice.

Please don't me tell that the Air is the "wrong computer" for someone concerned about thieves because it's the right computer for someone attending a college on 2,001 acres (8.10 km2) of rolling, forested hills (University of California, Santa Cruz) or, really, for anyone interested, solely, in portability. And, I happen to like the Air :).

Again, any ideas?



engram
Nov 30, 2010, 04:50 PM
Well, excluding the obvious (if the Air is on your bed or desk then lock the door when you go out)....

Throw it into a locking briefcase that you bicycle-lock to your bed or desk. If kept at the ready, this would be the quickest way to actually secure such a small valuable thing.

BeyondtheTech
Nov 30, 2010, 05:19 PM
Install good tracking software.

iCam (http://www.skjm.com/icam), great for iOS users to log in and "see" who's using the machine.

LoJack (http://www.absolute.com/en/lojackforlaptops/home.aspx) / Hidden (http://hiddenapp.com/) / Undercover (http://www.orbicule.com/undercover/) / GadgetTrak (http://www.gadgettrak.com/products/laptop/) / MacPhoneHome (http://www.brigadoonsoftware.com/mac/index.html) anti-theft tracking software that lies under the OS.

The Air has no Kensington lock (?!) so keep it close, but keep it trackable.

LynnW
Nov 30, 2010, 05:27 PM
This (http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/275936/Vaultz-Locking-Laptop-Briefcase-Black/) should do the job.

coelacanth
Nov 30, 2010, 05:33 PM
Or buy an insurance coverage that works for theft. SafeWare and Worth Ave Group do offer that. As far as I know, Square Trade doesn't cover theft.

MacBook08
Nov 30, 2010, 05:35 PM
Thanks for the replies, everyone!

This looks promising: http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/275936/Vaultz-Locking-Laptop-Briefcase-Black/ and so does this: http://www.amazon.com/Pacsafe-PacSafe-55-Wire/dp/B000FGVFP8/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1291159758&sr=8-10. Both are a little pricey but the latter could be used for locking other things, as well.

Edit: Sorry! Didn't see the earlier post by LynnW.

Does anyone think the Air will fit in this (http://www.ideastreamproducts.com/briefcases_backpacks/laptop_cases/VZ00108)?

http://www.apple.com/macbookair/specs.html

patricia b
Nov 30, 2010, 06:30 PM
One other idea that doesn't really help you when it comes to leaving it in your room, but may be helpful to other people in general. Don't have any labels on the sleeve or case that identify it as Apple or Mac or computer. We had a friend lose a lot of camera equipment in Europe to thieves in a railway station because all of the cases were identified by brand--Pentax, Canon, etc. Too easy to spot, identify, and watch for a chance to steal.

LynnW
Nov 30, 2010, 06:31 PM
Does anyone think the Air will fit in this (http://www.ideastreamproducts.com/briefcases_backpacks/laptop_cases/VZ00108)?

http://www.apple.com/macbookair/specs.html

Apple says the Air is 11.8 inches wide and the case says the inside is 11.75. 0.05 inch isn't much. Sounds like it fits to me.

rnelan7
Nov 30, 2010, 06:38 PM
Always have it with you at all times. The MBA is a small machine so it will be easy to put it in a backpack. Otherwise just get some kind of case you can lock. You should be alright with not having it stolen, just don't be foolish with leaving your door unlocked/opened when you aren't there.

psirix
Nov 30, 2010, 06:46 PM
If it's at home/dorm, keep it in a safe or some enclosure that locks and cannot easily move. If it's with you, keep it with you all the time. Yes, even in the bathroom :cool:

BeyondtheTech
Nov 30, 2010, 11:07 PM
You should grab your little Mac OS X Install USB stick that came with your Air, and run the Firmware Password Utility.

Set a password that YOU'LL remember. This will prevent anyone from wiping out your SSD drive. The only way to remove it is by entering the correct password or taking it to an Apple Genius Bar, and that'll probably be a no-no, since the serial number will be flagged by you.

If you do go with a anti-theft/tracking software route, lock your administrator account down, but allow a guest to log on. That way, they can connect to the internet, and its SkyHook location may be traceable.

revelated
Nov 30, 2010, 11:54 PM
How would I keep an Air safe when I'm not around (besides taking it everywhere I go, buying a safe, or buying a locking file cabinet)?

...

Please don't me tell that the Air is the "wrong computer" for someone concerned about thieves...

I'm sorry, why exactly is this (The bold) not an option? Cause...while the Air may not be the "wrong computer" for someone concerned about thieves, it seems the perfect take-anywhere machine, thus that seems the safest bet, unless you think your bag is going to get jacked.

For reference, I take my 17" MacBook Pro with me to work every day. If I don't actually need it at the moment I leave it locked in the trunk of the car. Worst case the car gets stolen - though unlikely - and if someone really wanted my car that bad, they'd have to go through some hoops to get it, by which time someone will catch them in the act. But the MBP is always with me for just the very slight risk that someone might break into my apartment and take it - breaking into my apartment would be significantly easier than breaking into my car, especially since I'm on ground level.

MacBook08
Dec 1, 2010, 12:07 AM
I'm sorry, why exactly is this (The bold) not an option? Cause...while the Air may not be the "wrong computer" for someone concerned about thieves, it seems the perfect take-anywhere machine, thus that seems the safest bet, unless you think your bag is going to get jacked.

For reference, I take my 17" MacBook Pro with me to work every day. If I don't actually need it at the moment I leave it locked in the trunk of the car. Worst case the car gets stolen - though unlikely - and if someone really wanted my car that bad, they'd have to go through some hoops to get it, by which time someone will catch them in the act. But the MBP is always with me for just the very slight risk that someone might break into my apartment and take it - breaking into my apartment would be significantly easier than breaking into my car, especially since I'm on ground level.

Well, my dorm room is a quad so I have three roommates. I trust them but they bring a lot of guests around who I don't know well. I can't take the Air to the bathroom when I'm showering and taking the Air to the dining hall isn't all that easy (we can't bring bags to tables so it would end up sitting at a table, exposed and visible, for anyone to take).

silverblack
Dec 1, 2010, 12:25 AM
How about installing a lock in the door of your bedroom. If not, get a small filing cabinet with lock from business depot.

ReelAction
Dec 1, 2010, 12:31 AM
You may have already made provisions for loss of data, which can be just as devastating as loss of hardware, but just in case this has been overlooked;
- use time machine with an external hard drive
- also consider online storage as additional insurance, maybe drop box (which is free for 2GB storage) or mobile me

Atamagaii
Dec 1, 2010, 05:35 AM
I can see this (http://lifehacker.com/5259519/deter-thieves-by-uglifying-your-camera) working well for your beloved new MBA ;)

patricia b
Dec 1, 2010, 06:52 AM
You may have already made provisions for loss of data, which can be just as devastating as loss of hardware, but just in case this has been overlooked;
- use time machine with an external hard drive
- also consider online storage as additional insurance, maybe drop box (which is free for 2GB storage) or mobile me

This. I carry my MacBook (13") everywhere with me. I get teased about it, but I have become rather paranoid about losing my work. I daily (sometimes more often than that) back up my work:

To dropbox.
To a flash drive.
To time machine to external hard drive.

So that I have four copies always. The original and three backups. It took me many years to get in the habit of backing up at all, but it was the fear of losing all my work on a project that involved several years of research that drove me to this extreme. Now it's second nature.

(My 11" MBA arrives Friday!)

patricia b
Dec 1, 2010, 06:54 AM
You should grab your little Mac OS X Install USB stick that came with your Air, and run the Firmware Password Utility.

Set a password that YOU'LL remember. This will prevent anyone from wiping out your SSD drive. The only way to remove it is by entering the correct password or taking it to an Apple Genius Bar, and that'll probably be a no-no, since the serial number will be flagged by you.

If you do go with a anti-theft/tracking software route, lock your administrator account down, but allow a guest to log on. That way, they can connect to the internet, and its SkyHook location may be traceable.

Thank you. This is VERY helpful!

I have also read a rec somewhere that you should always have a laptop password protected so that anyone who tries to use it can't. Also, to set up two "users" -- the one that is the admin, and the one that you actually use daily. That might be similar to your guest account idea, but taking it a step further?

BeyondtheTech
Dec 1, 2010, 07:47 AM
Thank you. This is VERY helpful!

I have also read a rec somewhere that you should always have a laptop password protected so that anyone who tries to use it can't. Also, to set up two "users" -- the one that is the admin, and the one that you actually use daily. That might be similar to your guest account idea, but taking it a step further?

Here's my logic about the guest account:

If someone happens to steal a notebook, and in particular, the MacBook Air which has no integrated Ethernet, chances are they'll be bringing it to a new, unknown wireless hotspot to authenticate to. That will give the tracking software the location of the hotspot, or at least the IP address of where they're connecting on the internet.

The only way that's going to happen is if they have at least some access to the machine. Hence, the guest account. They won't have access to anything more than the applications you have installed - no documents or passwords that's in your user profile.

Without a guest account or any access to the notebook, providing you don't autologin yourself, the only thing they'll be able to do is try to format the drive. To which, they won't be able to if you've password-protected the notebook with the Apple Open Firmware Utility.

More on the Open Firmware password: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1352

If you're equally cautious about the data on the drive, I would suggest encrypting it with OS X's FileVault feature in the Security Preferences, too.

tunerX
Dec 1, 2010, 08:06 AM
You don't want it to get stolen but you do not want to lock it up or take it with you.

password protecting or installing tracking software won't stop it from getting stolen.

I think you need to look at the first two options again.

Maybe, if you wish really hard, you can turn all of the scoundrels into saints.

Another method would be to work out and get really tough with a bunch of training in MMA and then beat the crap out of all of your dorm mates. Then you can tell them it was a proactive beating and if your MBA ever disappears the beating will be more severe.

BeyondtheTech
Dec 1, 2010, 08:57 AM
You don't want it to get stolen but you do not want to lock it up or take it with you.

password protecting or installing tracking software won't stop it from getting stolen.

I think you need to look at the first two options again.

Maybe, if you wish really hard, you can turn all of the scoundrels into saints.

Another method would be to work out and get really tough with a bunch of training in MMA and then beat the crap out of all of your dorm mates. Then you can tell them it was a proactive beating and if your MBA ever disappears the beating will be more severe.

Definitely the most helpful answer in the thread. Thanks.

tunerX
Dec 1, 2010, 10:54 AM
Definitely the most helpful answer in the thread. Thanks.

Better than the others.

Firmware passwords can be bypassed. A guest or admin account password does not matter because once I can access the system I can get in.

Tracking software only works if you are online.

None of the mentioned tips will stop it from getting stolen but will just make it a little more difficult for the thief to get a free MBA.

If you do a search in this site you can find many different posts in bypassing the firmware password. Then you can find other posts for bypassing the admin password. The problem with a password is that your machine is still helpless if the thief has the system in their hands and also has access to the internet to find out how to defeat the security measures you installed.

BeyondtheTech
Dec 1, 2010, 01:59 PM
I did a decent search around the site, and found that:

The only way of bypassing a firmware password is by changing the memory modules.

In every machine with removable RAM if you take out one chip to change the config of the system it will bypass the firmware logic. MBA and MacMini don't allow for this.

As he stated and we all know, the new MacBook Airs have memory modules that are soldered on, so there is no way of changing the memory without physically desoldering the chips.

Apple's own knowledge base page (http://support.apple.com/kb/TS3554) for "Recovering a lost firmware password" specifically states that only Apple Retail Stores and Apple Authorized Service Provider are capable of removing a firmware password.

Anyway, perhaps all my information provided here does not apply - after all, he's asking how to prevent it from getting stolen in the first place.

MacBook08
Dec 1, 2010, 02:32 PM
I can see this (http://lifehacker.com/5259519/deter-thieves-by-uglifying-your-camera) working well for your beloved new MBA ;)

Haha. I could see this working but I'm such a clean person that I doubt anyone would believe it.

MacBook08
Dec 1, 2010, 02:33 PM
(My 11" MBA arrives Friday!)

Congrats!

MacBook08
Dec 1, 2010, 02:54 PM
Thanks for the responses everyone.

I am a Time Machine user so I'll definitely continue using it with the Air.

A firmware password seems like a decent idea for preventing data theft.

I think the best option would be this locking case that I posted earlier: http://www.ideastreamproducts.com/briefcases_backpacks/laptop_cases/VZ00108. It's surprisingly inexpensive and according to one of the company's reps, it should fit, even though the site lists the width of the interior as 11 3/4 inch (the width of the Air is 11.8 inch).

http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x281/KevzDog/0ce337e4.jpg?t=1291236281

Here's an image of the case:
http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x281/KevzDog/835d0c13.jpg?t=1291236281

I'll update this thread as soon as I test it out myself.

foiden
Dec 1, 2010, 02:58 PM
Best way to prevent your Macbook air from being stolen? Find a way to put it in a big thick case, when closed, that reads e-Machines all over it. Nobody in their right mind would imagine getting a profit or worth stealing one of those!

On the other hand, if you have to leave it in the room somewhere, it's best to encase it in something where nobody can even tell that there's a Macbook air there.

Remember, it's an Air. Hold it sideways and it almost disappears. The thing is smaller than some small stacks of paper. Can practically hide in a bookcase sandwiched between book. Hiding places (portfolios) are everywhere. You don't see people stealing someone's homework very often.

Pete A
Dec 3, 2010, 11:37 PM
I agree with foiden. Hide it.

Years ago, I bought my first PowerBook and a Kensington lock to put in its little hole. I got home, locked it to my desk, stared at it, and thought: Dang, the next crack addict who breaks into my apartment will just yank that little tongue out of the little hole and not care about the cosmetic damage. Addicts sell stolen laptops for $50, according to a cop who interviewed me after I chased one down the alley, causing him to drop my Windows laptop and make it even uglier.

So I returned the Kensington lock to the store, and simply hid the PowerBook each time I left my apartment. I slipped it under the rumpled covers of my bed. Make sure your sheets are dirty and even crack addicts will look elsewhere.

Seriously, the MBA is even easier to hide. You could slip it in your dirty-laundry hamper... in a drawer under your undies (hopefully clean)... in something hanging in your closet. Get creative.

Under the mattress probably isn't good, because that's where people hide guns.

BeyondtheTech
Dec 8, 2010, 02:38 PM
I just checked out the Hidden page, and they're giving free licenses until January 2011!

Go grab a copy while it's free! www.hiddenapp.com

tom1971
Dec 11, 2010, 11:08 AM
I found this (http://macbracket.com/photographies) and ordered a bracket for my MBA.
Hopefully they come up with something for the new MBA as well...

patricia b
Dec 11, 2010, 11:24 AM
I agree with foiden. Hide it.

Years ago, I bought my first PowerBook and a Kensington lock to put in its little hole. I got home, locked it to my desk, stared at it, and thought: Dang, the next crack addict who breaks into my apartment will just yank that little tongue out of the little hole and not care about the cosmetic damage. Addicts sell stolen laptops for $50, according to a cop who interviewed me after I chased one down the alley, causing him to drop my Windows laptop and make it even uglier.

So I returned the Kensington lock to the store, and simply hid the PowerBook each time I left my apartment. I slipped it under the rumpled covers of my bed. Make sure your sheets are dirty and even crack addicts will look elsewhere.

Seriously, the MBA is even easier to hide. You could slip it in your dirty-laundry hamper... in a drawer under your undies (hopefully clean)... in something hanging in your closet. Get creative.

Under the mattress probably isn't good, because that's where people hide guns.

That's why I love my cheap case. In my shoulderbag or purse it doesn't call attention to itself at all. Who would expect a laptop in there? LOL

http://planetpooks.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/envelope-please.jpg

Oh, and in case you can't tell, it's leather. Got it from amazon for sixteen bucks.

AppliedMicro
Dec 11, 2010, 12:56 PM
I did a decent search around the site, and found that:
The only way of bypassing a firmware password is by changing the memory modules.
This is true for Mac with replaceable memory modules.
You can reset a MacBook Air's Firmware Password without entering it.
And it doesn't involve resoldering RAM chips on the logic board. ;)

I'd bet you can find the how-to somewhere out there on the 'web.

Pete A
Dec 11, 2010, 01:15 PM
http://planetpooks.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/envelope-please.jpg

Oh, and in case you can't tell, it's leather.

Can people tell when they see the real thing rather than a photo? Paper would be even cheaper and less suspicious. :)

Might carry mine in a trash bag.

patricia b
Dec 11, 2010, 01:23 PM
Can people tell when they see the real thing rather than a photo? Paper would be even cheaper and less suspicious. :)

Might carry mine in a trash bag.

LOL! No, they never guess what's inside. I think they might think it's a pretentious "manila" folder with papers inside.

When more and more computers get this thin it might be more obvious, but now, people just don't think it could possibly be a laptop inside. In fact, when I pulled it out of the wrapping I wondered if the laptop would really fit or would it be crammed and obvious from the outline/edges that something solid and laptop-shaped was inside. It does fit and there are no outlines/edges.