Guide to Kensington Slot (K-lock, Kensington Lock, Universal Security Lock) mobile device security

A Kensington Security Slot (or Kensington Slot, Kensington Lock or simply K-Slot) is a common device with which a laptop, notebook, monitor, or other movable piece of equipment can be securely attached to something less mobile. Kensington slots, conceived by their namesake Kensington Technology Group, have become the international standard for notebook security, and are almost universally approved by laptop manufacturers. This worldwide adoption has led to the name Universal Security Lock being applied, and laptop manufacturers ensure the compatibility of their devices with the lock. Computer equipment left in public areas are often secured using a Kensington lock with universities, colleges, libraries, internet cafés and large office buildings all making extensive use.

A laptop’s Kensington slot will take the form of a small, slightly elongated slot to the side or rear of the casing, with some space behind the casing to either side of the slot. A sturdy cable is anchored in this slot at one end using locking device. To the other end of the cable should be attached a heavier object such as a table or wall, for example. The locking mechanism inside the Kensington slot is secured and detached using a key- or pin-activated lock. It is important for manufacturers to ensure that the slot and lock combination does not block any ports or vents on the secured equipment.

A Kensington slot’s sturdy cable attached to an immovable object makes for a formidable opponent to the would-be thief. The weak point of the attachment is in the anchoring of the cable with the equipment itself, often to a thin plastic covering, and removal of the lock is a trivial matter of brute force. Substantial damage is likely to be caused by the removal in such a way, though, and a Kensington lock’s strength is in the deterring to opportunistic theft rather than in preventing it.

Variations on the standard cable theme are available, with extra-thin, portable and motion-sensing locks and cables all on the market. Adapters are available that enable equipment that does not have a built-in Kensington slot to be secured.