Alarmed by notebook theft? Defcon may help
If the cable is cut, the Defcon 1 emits the same alarm the motion sensor
triggers. A thief might try to electronically pop the cable with alligator clips, but with
the motion sensor enabled, the notebook should still be secure.
You enable the motion sensor by pressing a button after locking the cable. Within
nine seconds, the alarm is armed. At 110 decibels, it's loud enough to draw attention in
most environments. When the 40-second alarm time is up, the device resets. If it still
detects motion, the alarm sounds again. Holding it close to your body will dampen the
sound a bit.
Though quite loud, the alarm isn't good enough insurance to leave your notebook
unattended in a noisy place such as an airport.
The motion sensor has high and standard sensitivity settings. The high
setting, which also is the default setting, triggers the alarm at the slightest motion,
even a tilt.
The standard setting supposedly can distinguish between minimal bumps and real
motion. In practice, however, the settings are almost identical.
When the motion sensor activates, a light on the front flashes as a warning that the
unit is armed.
Defcon 1 draws power from an included 9-volt battery. Once the cable is locked, the
battery case also is locked, so a potential thief couldn't simply pop out the battery to
silence the alarm. The specifications claim 70 days of continuous use from a standard
battery and 90 days from an alkaline battery.
Continuous use means with the unit locked and the alarm armed but not sounding. In
average use, the battery should last six months to a year. The unit has a low-battery
To disengage the cable and turn off or disarm the alarm, you must select the correct
This supposedly can be reset to three numbers of your choice, but I found setting a new
combination next to impossible. I even tried variations on the stated directions, and
The unit gives an audible beep once the plug head of the cable is engaged within the
lock body, but I found the cable was not really secure and could loosen unless pushed in
all the way.
The unit's cylindrical lock adapter fits the built-in security slot on many notebook
computers. Once the adapter is attached to the slot, the Defcon 1's cable can pass through
the back of it, letting you secure both notebook and case together.
The Defcon 1 can even do guard duty for luggage or other belongings. The
company's literature suggests hanging it inside your hotel door to warn of intruders.
Though versatile, the Defcon 1 does have weaknesses. It can't stop malefactors from
tapping into your notebook's data if they're careful not to set off the motion alarm.
Also, as mentioned above, thieves might find ways to keep the device from sensing that the
cable has been cut.
These are not major drawbacks, however. The Defcon 1 provides extremely high
security in most mobile-use situations.
With additional lock adapters, you could secure other portable devices such as
removable-media drives or docking stations.
At 6.4 ounces, the Defcon 1 won't increase your carry weight much. Its $49 price
certainly is affordable to protect a multithousand-dollar notebook investment. Because
265,000 notebooks were reported stolen in the United States last year, it might make sense
to try something like this.