News last week of the theft of a laptop computer from Fidelity Investments that reportedly contained confidential client information is perhaps the final straw for many companies and individuals, who in increasing numbers have recently sought out precautions ranging from old-fashioned locks to sophisticated software protection.

Among the information on the Fidelity computer was the Social Security numbers of 196,000 Hewlett-Packard employees, news reports indicated. Fidelity manages Hewlett-Packard's retirement plans. Ameriprise Financial and aircraft maker Boeing have also suffered similar hiccups.

Now business is booming in the protection business, according to USA Today. Companies and individuals are buying hardware and software to "create layers of deterrence," said John Livingstone, CEO of Absolute Software in Vancouver.

Fidelity said that the information was password protected, but experts like Bob Enger from Lisle, Ill.-based Pointsec Mobile Technologies said they're easy to crack. That's made portable devices a favorite among identification thieves, he told USA Today.

Cable locks that anchor a laptop to the workstation, alarms that can be heard from up 40 feet, and software that wipes out data once the stolen laptop is connected to the Internet among popular precautions on the market today. In addition, Gateway of Irvine, Calif., plans to release tracking software this month.

Subscribe Now

Access to premium content including in-depth coverage of mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(K)s, 529 plans, and more.

3-Week Free Trial

Insight and analysis into the management, marketing, operations and technology of the asset management industry.