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Using a Kensington Lock

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What is a Kensington lock?

A Kensington lock is a security device that attaches a cable from a computer to a stationary object such as table. It is similar to a bicycle lock that attaches a bicycle securely to a railing. This security device deters the potential casual theft of a notebook, or other devices, in public areas such as cafes, airports, and school libraries.
Most notebooks manufactured since 2000 have a Kensington slot, or K-slot, somewhere on the case. One end of the security cable has a lock that attaches to this K-slot with either a keyed lock or a combination padlock. The other end of the cable can be looped around a table leg or other heavy object to keep the notebook in place.
Figure 1: Kensington lock with keys

How do I use a Kensington lock?

To secure the computer, in a public environment, such as a café, airport, or library, wrap one end of the security cable around a heavy, immobile object. Insert the lock into the Kensington slot on the computer and secure the lock with its key or its combination.

What types of locks are there?

Kensington provides different lines of locks for different needs. Where a student, while working in a library, might need one level of security, a person who travels frequently or an IT manager responsible for hundreds of pieces of equipment might need more security. In general, there are two basic lock types: combination padlocks and keyed locks. With a combination lock, you will need to remember a sequence of numbers to unlock the security device. With a key lock, you will need to keep track of a set of keys that belong to the security device.

How secure are Kensington locks?

Kensington type locks are the standard for security in the world of notebooks. Their cables are difficult to cut, and prying the lock out of the case will leave obvious signs of damage to the notebook that would make it difficult for any thief to resell the computer to any reputable business or individual.
No security system is ever perfect. Never disclose the combination of your lock to people that you do not trust. Never give the keys to someone that you do not trust. Never leave a notebook unattended for long periods of time in a public place, even if you have secured it with a Kensington lock.