AOH :: ISN-2841.HTM

Laptops banned from hand baggage

Laptops banned from hand baggage
Laptops banned from hand baggage 

[Its only a matter of time before airports start looking like 
Spencer Tunick photo shoots. - WK]

By Jeremy Kirk
IDG news service
10 August 2006

UK passengers have been banned from taking electronic items on board 
airplanes. The new rules follow the arrests of 21 people in connection 
with an alleged plot to blow up aircraft mid-flight en route to the 

Laptop computers, iPods and mobile phones must be placed in checked 
baggage on flights out of the U.K. Airline passengers have become 
accustomed to additional checks following the September 2001 terrorist 
attacks in the US. Airport security checks require that laptops must 
be removed from their cases and X-rayed. But the new security measures 
in the UK could mean an increased chance of theft or damage to laptops 
and devices that must be checked and not carried on.

>From January through June of this year, US passengers filed nearly 1.8 
million reports concerning mishandled baggage, according to US 
Department of Transportation statistics.

There are ways to reduce the risk of damage or the impact of a lost 
laptop, said Richard Starnes, a computer security expert and president 
of the UK branch of the worldwide Information Systems Security 
Association. Ideally, laptop users should already be following such 
guidelines, he said. The guidelines include:

* Back up data: Enterprises may have a regular schedule for 
  backing up data, but personal users may be less rigorous.

* Passwords: Protecting a laptop with passwords is imperative. 
  Users could configure their laptops to prompt them for an additional 
  password during the BIOS process, when a computer first starts and 
  checks its hardware configuration, Starnes said.

* Encryption: The data on a machine may be worth more to a thief 
  or hacker than the hardware itself. High-profile losses of laptops 
  have raised awareness about encryption, another way to ensure a lost 
  laptop doesn't have other crushing consequences for a business.

* Insurance: Data may be lost, but there will be compensation for 
  the lost hardware. Airlines for domestic US flights usually limit 
  their liability for baggage to US$2,800 per passenger, according to 
  the US Department of Transportation. A top-grade laptop could exceed 
  the limit.

Compensation for international flights is determined by an
international agreement and is subject to currency fluctuations. As of
February, baggage compensation for international trips was about a
maximum of US$1,400 per passenger, according to AirSafe, a website run
by aviation expert Todd Curtis.

But a laptop faces other in-flight challenges, even if it isn't lost.  
Baggage handlers aren't kind to luggage, and notebook computers could
be vulnerable to fatal bumps and tumbles.

Generally, the hard drives in laptops are designed to endure a 3-foot
drop on concrete when turned off, Starnes said. A hard-shell case
would offer more protection, at least while the laptop is in a baggage
hold. The laptop could the be transferred back to a lighter bag after
the journey, he said.

According to new regulations, other items, including liquids and food,
are also banned from airplane cabins, with few exceptions. The rules,
apply for all flights leaving or transferring through the UK, the
British government said.

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