You're enjoying a double-tall latte with extra foam at your local Starbucks, cruising the WiFi on your streamlined Sony Viao from the depths of an overstuffed armchair, Canon in G streaming into your ears via MP3. Life is sweet. Until the moment when your "virtual world" is literally ripped from your grasp when a thug on roller blades snatches your computer from your lap. Pain in your ears tells you the earphones went with your machine. Dazed, you can only watch as your laptop--your "world"--skates off to a waiting car.

It's called I-Jacking (a term sometimes attributed with Internet identity fraud).  But, in contrast with the delicate logistics of computer fraud, this grab-and-dash robbery is a violent, "brute force" crime that often leaves the victim traumatized. Strong-armed theft is not new; it's just going high-tech. I-Jacking is second only to theft of iPods or MP3 players. Transportation authorities routinely hand out fliers at subway stations to commuters wearing headphones, warning them that their property may be at risk while attention is focused on the music.

I-Jacking is becoming more and more of a problem, especially with the popularity of Internet cafes. It's easy to see why this crime is flourishing. Laptops are compact, valuable, hard to trace, and easy to fence. Some cafes offer cables to secure your computer, but most customers won't use them, preferring the portability offered by the laptop.

So the thief skates off with your laptop. You're out a couple thousand dollars, your sense of security and, what is worse, all of your data, probably worth more than the machine itself. Gone.
There are ways to help recover stolen laptops. Some computers have hidden serial numbers on their hard drives, and users can purchase identifying tags which can be attached to their machines. But these can only help if the computer has already been recovered. It's too bad there are no LoJacks for computers.

Or are there?

There are companies out there who are coming up with solutions to the I-Jacking problem. Some companies sell software that prompts the laptop to call home if stolen. And, to our surprise, FFA has found a company that advertises "LoJack for Laptops," made by Computrace:

Hopefully measures such as these will boost recovery of stolen laptops and, in turn, discourage I-Jacking itself. However, the best solution is prevention. If you're going to surf the net in public, sit with your back against a wall, so that you face the room. Be aware of your surroundings. Make use of cables if available.

And stay vigilant ... don't mask your senses.