Sometimes stealing an entire computer may be too obvious or difficult, but stealing the components inside may be a lot easier. After all, anyone can tell when a computer suddenly disappears from a desk, but who will notice when a computer suddenly loses a hard drive, a video card, an external Zip drive, a trackball, or a memory chip?

To stop someone from walking off with an external device, such as an external hard drive or computer speakers, you can glue a metal plate to each item, thread a computer security cable through these plates, and anchor everything to your computer.

Anti-theft cases

Of course, computer cables may stop someone from stealing the computer, but they may not stop them from opening up the computer case and stealing everything inside. To prevent someone from opening up your computer, you can buy a protective computer cover, which looks like a metal case that fits and locks over your computer. Such protective metal cases deter theft of both the computer itself and any internal components.

To some people, a metal protective case can look ugly and take up space. So rather than cover your computer in a metallic shell, you may just want to get a lock that attaches to the back of your computer, which prevents anyone from opening up the case (but it won't stop anyone from stealing the entire computer).

For another alternative to a protective metal case, you can get a security pad that attaches to a fixed object, such as a desk, and then uses glue to hold the computer (or any other item of value, such as a copying machine or a laser printer) on top of the security pad.

While many people worry about outside hackers breaking into their computers and wiping out their data, the truth is that many hacker attacks come from people who already have legitimate access to the computer, such as coworkers, consultants, or technicians. To prevent insiders from accessing your computer to steal data or to slip a virus or Trojan horse onto your computer, you can also buy protective disk drive locks. These disk drive locks simply cover the front of the disk drive and stop anyone from using that floppy, Zip, or CD drive.

To learn more about physical security devices, such as cables, locks, and protective covers, visit the websites of the following companies:



Computer Security Products



PC Guardian


Security Solutions


An alarm can act as a deterrent to any type of theft, because the last thing a thief wants is noise that draws attention. Many companies make motion-detection alarms that plug into an ordinary expansion slot in the computer and run off their own power, so they can work whether the computer is on or off. When the alarm detects abnormal motion that's likely due to someone moving the computer, the alarm shrieks out a high-pitched wail, scaring off the would-be thief.

For those serious about protecting their computer, consider a unique product by Barracuda Security Devices ( that works like the exploding dye capsules used by banks to foil heists. (These capsules give a warning, and then they explode, spraying ink over the money and the bank robber so the police can later identify the thief and trace any attempt to put the money into circulation.) The Barracuda Anti Theft Device fits into an internal expansion slot in a desktop computer and detects changes in internal ambient light, signaling that the case has been opened. If the cover is removed without disarming the device with a PIN, an alarm sounds and the device sprays indelible ink across all of the internal components, making them easy to identify as stolen and impossible to resell.