Do you lock your computer when you get up from it?

Hi all,

I have noticed that it is very common in coworking places to see computers which are not locked. The owner will get up and go for a walk, or even go out for lunch for a couple of hours and leave their computer unlocked.

I find this strange because it basic gives anyone access to your computer and all the information that is on it - mail accounts, social media accounts, your password manager etc, so it poses a potentially huge security risk.

For me personally I worked in corporates many times and there you can get into big trouble if you leave your workstation unlocked. It is part on my muscle memory now - when I get up I lock the computer. On Windows it is so easy because you can just press Win+L and the computer is locked.

So I am curious - do you lock your computer when you get up? Is it just something you have not thought about before, or do you think no-one will mess with your computer in a public place?

It’s a force of habit to lock my computer after working in a corporate environment for over a decade, plus as an added security measure my system will lock itself if my watch is out of bluetooth range.

If I’m in a co-working place and see an unlocked system owned by someone I know, I will change their desktop to something extremely inappropriate.

Whenever I see an unprotected computer owned by strangers, I often wonder if they have that same attitude towards the user data on the company they’re working on.

Anyone who leaves a system unprotected is practically begging for trouble. Either it be on their own data, or their clients and customers.

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I’ve seen many people doing this too.
I’ve setup a bottom-right hot corner (in OS X) which activates the screensaver. The password is needed to deactivate it. Also ctrl+shift+eject/power will work.

Not only lock it, I also use PlugSpy (an app for Mac). If someone unplugs my laptop, it will ring a sound loudly, or if someone tries to unlock with an invalid password, it will take a photo of that person from the webcam, a sound will be played too.


I habitually physically lock my laptop to the table. Nearly all machines have a little port for that & the cable to plug into that port is cheap & lightweight. It won’t stop a thief who brings boltcutters, but it will stop many.

It amazes me that anyone travels without one of those cables, but most people seem to. At one point I walked out of a Chinese bar, bought about five cables at a few $ each & gave them to everyone I was sitting with.

As for software locking, I use Linux and the screensaver locks the machine so you need a pasword to get back in. I think the last time I used a desktop or laptop machine without that feature was over 20 years ago.

The screensaver kicks in after a set time. At home, I have it set for 15 minutes. Travelling, 2 to 5 depending how paranoid I feel.

The only time I don’t lock my laptop is when I’m at home alone and the only way for someone to get inside the house is open a locked door and disable the flat security. Still after 5 or 10 minutes my laptop locks itself automatically. Otherwise if someone/anyone can look at my screen when I’m not sitting in front of it it’s locked. More or less has the same thing set up for my phone, tabled, kindle, backpack :smiley:

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I lock it all the times, even at home. Call me crazy, but I believe it’s a healthy habit. Just as @eelcojellema, I set up the bottom left corner of my Macbook to display a clock screensaver that requires password to unlock it. As soon as I’m getting up, I slide the cursor to that corner and bam!, secured.

haven’t had a laptop with a cable lock port in years.

Yep I have it set up on OSX. It goes into lock after 1 minute of not using it. It’s pretty important because all my hard drives are encrypted with OSX’s FileVault. So if people have access any way, it doesn’t make sense.

In safe places (like Singapore, or in coworking spaces) I leave my computer at my desk in a coffee shop. But usually in other places, I’ll take it with me, leaving my other stuff on the table. I’ll just bring my phone and laptop. That’s the most valuable things, so they’re most important to take.

I’ve never used cable locks, I think they attract only more attention to you actually. And they’re a bit overdoing it.

Also I know it’s valuable, but then again, everything can get stolen. Just be prepared it will. I have everything backed up in the cloud every second and on a external Time Machine drive every day, so the moment I lose my MacBook, I just accept it. Buy a new one, and restore and continue working. Honestly, if you stay out of tourists areas and you’re smart, your odds of getting robbed are not that high. Most of it is pickpocketing, and not taking your entire bag or laptop.

agreed. all these ‘safety’ precautions like cable locks, money belts (unless actually used properly, which is rare), pacsafes, etc. are just like pointing a neon sign at your expensive stuff and saying ‘look, i have expensive stuff and I think all this keeps it safe, come prove me wrong!’. Just follow my safety rule and you’re pretty much golden.

I try to lock it every time I walk away, unless I’m being absent-minded and forget. But if I’m going somewhere the laptop will be out of my line of sight for more than 5 mins - say to the bathroom - I’ll throw the laptop in my backpack and take it with me. It’s fast and easy. I’m comfortable leaving the charger there, but I’m not taking chances with the laptop.

This is more so in the case in a cafe I’m not familiar with, since I don’t know anyone there and don’t have a sense of how much foot traffic it gets just yet.

I do that where people can walk by.
By dragging my cursor to a smartcorner, the screensaver is activated and my Mac is semi-save.

Always. Got it into my head with my first job out of college. If anyone in the office failed to lock their computer, they’d have a nasty surprise waiting for them. (I’d include some examples here but they’re definitely NSFW!)

If I’m on Windows I instinctively hit Windows+L whenever I get up. Doesn’t matter if I’m at home, at the office, or working remote.

On my Mac, I have the Guest account enabled and go to the “Switch Users” screen whenever I leave my system unattended.

I work in a hotel lounge sometimes, and when I have to get up to take a break I put my laptop in my tech backpack and leave whatever else I have (cables, another non-tech backpack) sitting there until I get back (these are just bathroom breaks, so it’s not long). The people there know me too, so they keep an eye on my spot.

I agree, I spend a lot of time working in coffee shops - I put my (regular, paper) notebook and cup of coffee on the table to save my spot, but the laptop goes in my bag and into the bathroom. Paranoid, yes, but I don’t want to loose a day of work because I have to track down an electronics store and buy a new laptop.

As to Software locking, I have my machine set to time out in a couple of minutes and require a password to access it. All of my work is backed up online, so if/when my machine gets lost or stolen I won’t loose anything there, and I have lastpass set to time itself out in a couple of minutes so that MOST everything would be unavailable to someone who could get past the Windows password.

I still have a few vulnerabilities, though. For instance -
Is there a good method for locking individual folders on a Windows machine? I have a Tresor for my important personal documents and sync a local folder with google drive and both of these are easily accessible from the Windows OS.

Personally. I use a MacLock blade which attaches to your computer and extends to provide a slot to put your Kensington lock in. MacBook Pros don’t have the slot embedded anymore so this was basically the option available to me.

Can’t say I agree that having a cable somehow communicates that you have something of value. I own a MacBook, so it’s pretty clear, I think, that it’s a valuable item regardless of having a cable.

At good coworking spaces, I wouldn’t expect anyone to come around with cable cutters either.