Ways to prevent the MBA from being stolen

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by MacBook08, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. macrumors regular

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    Aug 10, 2008
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    San Jose, California
    #1
    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?
     
  2. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    #2
    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.
     
  3. macrumors 68000

    BeyondtheTech

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #3
    Install good tracking software.

    iCam, great for iOS users to log in and "see" who's using the machine.

    LoJack / Hidden / Undercover / GadgetTrak / MacPhoneHome anti-theft tracking software that lies under the OS.

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

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  5. macrumors 6502

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    #5
    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.
     
  6. MacBook08, Nov 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2010

    thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
  7. macrumors member

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    #7
    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.
     
  8. macrumors member

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    #8
    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.
     
  9. macrumors 6502

    rnelan7

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    Location:
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    #9
    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.
     
  10. macrumors member

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    Aug 14, 2009
    Location:
    Detroit, MI
    #10
    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:
     
  11. macrumors 68000

    BeyondtheTech

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    Jun 20, 2007
    #11
    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.
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

    revelated

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    Jun 30, 2010
    #12
    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.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    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).
     
  14. macrumors 68000

    silverblack

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2007
    #14
    How about installing a lock in the door of your bedroom. If not, get a small filing cabinet with lock from business depot.
     
  15. macrumors member

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    #15
    Files/Data

    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
     
  16. macrumors newbie

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    #16
    I can see this working well for your beloved new MBA ;)
     
  17. macrumors member

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    Nov 29, 2010
    #17
    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!)
     
  18. macrumors member

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    Nov 29, 2010
    #18
    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?
     
  19. BeyondtheTech, Dec 1, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010

    macrumors 68000

    BeyondtheTech

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    Jun 20, 2007
    #19
    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.
     
  20. macrumors 6502

    tunerX

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    #20
    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.
     
  21. macrumors 68000

    BeyondtheTech

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    #21
    Definitely the most helpful answer in the thread. Thanks.
     
  22. macrumors 6502

    tunerX

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    Nov 5, 2009
    #22
    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.
     
  23. macrumors 68000

    BeyondtheTech

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #23
    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.

    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 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.
     
  24. thread starter macrumors regular

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    #24
    Haha. I could see this working but I'm such a clean person that I doubt anyone would believe it.
     
  25. thread starter macrumors regular

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    #25
    Congrats!
     

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