What is a Kensington lock?

A Kensington lock secures mobile electronic devices against theft. It is a security cable with a lock. At one end, it is firmly connected to the device to be secured; at the other end, it is connected to a stationary object or a fixed mount.

What is a Kensington lock?

The name Kensington lock or Kensington lock goes back to security devices from the manufacturer Kensington. The term has become established for anti-theft devices from various manufacturers that are compatible with this system. Many mobile devices and almost all laptops are equipped with the recess required for the Kensington lock on their housing.

In addition to laptops, projectors, monitors, or PCs, for example, are prepared for securing with a Kensington lock. The actual Kensington lock consists of a sturdy security cable and a locking mechanism for the housing recess. The security cable can be used to securely connect a mobile device to a stationary object. The security principle is similar to that of a bicycle lock and prevents quick theft and opportunistic theft by tethering.

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Structure and function of a Kensington lock

To use a Kensington lock, the device to be secured must be equipped with a Kensington recess, often called a Kensington slot (K-slot). This is a rectangular opening in the housing measuring approximately three by seven millimeters. The t-shaped locking mechanism of the Kensington lock can be inserted into this opening and fixed with a 90-degree turn. In this position, the locking mechanism can only be removed again by prying open the opening.

As a rule, the Kensington openings of devices are designed in such a way that significant damage occurs when they are forcibly removed. Such damaged devices are at first glance recognizable as stolen or unusable. The wire rope attached to the locking mechanism can be looped around a fixed object such as a railing, a desk frame, or another piece of furniture. The lock itself is opened and closed either with a key or by setting a combination of numbers.

Security aspects of the Kensington lock

Primarily, the Kensington lock is designed to prevent simple casual theft of mobile electronic devices. It is used, for example, when devices are used occasionally in public or semi-public areas. Due to the Kensington lock, the thief has an increased effort and time requirement when stealing. He must either cut the wire rope, forcibly remove the locking mechanism from the opening, or detach the wire loop from the stationary object. This provides a certain deterrent effect.

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In many devices, the Kensington opening is additionally reinforced with metal or firmly connected to other parts of the device. If the Kensington opening is only incorporated into the plastic case, breaking it out will at least cause damage to the case. This damage indicates at first glance that the Kensington lock has already been forcibly removed. This protects against the resale of stolen devices.

If a thief can work undisturbed on the Kensington lock for a longer period of time, it does not represent insurmountable protection. For example, the security cable can be cut with a tool. The thief can take the device with him and later defeat the locking mechanism at his leisure using suitable means without damaging the Kensington opening. An electronic device secured by a Kensington lock should therefore never be left unattended for long periods of time.