Laptop bag

Why a good laptop bag could form a critical part of your personal security arsenal.

We're all used to the idea of 'security' when it comes to computers. But we tend to think only in terms of stopping viruses and other malware. The more sophisticated amongst us may take further steps to secure our valuable data, but an increasingly important vector attack is often ignored: physical theft.

There are two important factors to consider here. For one, locking down Windows and encrypting all data won't help if your laptop is lying next to an open window. Which makes the second factor even more important: personal computers these days are a lot more personal. Your old desktop PC was physically secure in the sense that Burglar Bill would have to break in to lift it. But technology is much more portable and desirable these days.

This month on PC Advisor alone we have been testing all-in-one PCs and laptops. Indeed, most of us travel around with some or all of the following: smartphone, tablet, eReader, laptop, camera. All are valuable, all are vulnerable. And yet we wave them about in plain sight, offering an open invitation for someone to steal our devices, and our data.

It's something that occurred to me this month when we were also testing laptop bags for PC Advisor. Even the term 'laptop bag' is now a misnomer, as the best are designed specifically to carry all of the devices listed above, as well as the usual travelling detritus of packed lunch, gym kit and copy of PC Advisor. And it is important that they do so, not only to protect your kit from the slings and arrows of a busy commute, but also to hide your valuables safely behind a zip or two.

The same rules apply as ever they have in PC security. If you are less easy to rob than your neighbour, you won't become a victim. So the best laptop bags these days use style as a security mechanism. If your valuable tech is secured in what to the untrained eye looks like a rucksack or metrosexual man bag, the chap next to you with a bag marked 'laptop' is at more risk on the wrong side of town. And a laptop bag that requires you to open up two zips to get at your Kindle may be occasionally irritating, but it makes your eReader a lot more secure.

It's easy to overstate this, of course, but if you do travel with a lot of personal tech, a good bag is a good investment. Which is just as well because, as we found out in our tests this month, a good laptop bag is far from cheap.