When was the last time you thought about the security on laptops? If you are like most people, it’s not something that’s on your mind all the time.
However, laptops are at risk for security issues, just like any other device you use. This is true for your personal data and the physical device.
While thinking about laptop security may seem daunting, there are some simple tips you can use to improve security and safeguard your device and information.
Use Complex Passwords
Even though passwords alone are not enough to secure your laptop, they are a good way to get started. Strong, complex passwords will help improve overall security.
Setting a login password is essential for keeping others from gaining access to your files when the device is turned on.
Using a password-protected lock screen is smart if you use your laptop in public locations often, such as an office, coffee shop, or virtually anywhere else.
While this may be obvious, you need to create hard to guess, unique passwords for your devices. Think about using full sentences, passphrases, symbols, and numbers. Never use something obvious, such as your birthday or address.
If you want to strengthen your laptop security further, stop using passwords completely. With a single sign-on solution, you can access several apps with one set of login credentials.
You can also try other authentication methods that don’t require a password. This includes things like email magic links and factor sequencing.
Keep Your Device Software Updated
If you want a better understanding of how to keep your laptop malware-free, you need to pay attention to this tip.
Along with avoiding random downloads, you also need to make the software used by your device remains up to date.
Today’s popular browsers, such as Firefox and Chrome, are designed with auto-update enabled by default. While this is helpful, you still must restart the programs occasionally.
Be sure to turn auto-update on for your OS and apps to benefit from the most recent security patches.
Disable Booting from USB or CD
It is easy to remove or change an account password with free resetting programs or to guess short ones with similar tools.
While this is true, running these requires booting the device from a USB or CD. This means you can increase device security if you disable the ability of the laptop to boot from one of these devices.
It is possible to do this by updating the BIOS settings. This is the software in your device that has a generic code used for controlling the machine.
It can be accessed by pressing the right command right after turning the device on.
If you want to ensure these settings can’t be overridden, you can password-protect your BIOS. This means no changes can be made if the password is not entered.
Encrypt Your Hard Drive
This is one of the most important steps you can take when it comes to protecting your laptop. It is also your strongest line of defense against cyber attacks and theft.
Encryption is invaluable when it comes to securing your laptop. Login passwords alone are not enough to ensure protection. Criminals can remove the hard drive and read files.
Also, a professional hacker can break through your OS’s login screen.
With encryption, data and files are converted into code. This means the true content they contain is obscured, which makes it more challenging for a hacker to steal your information.
If you encrypt your hard drive, thieves and hackers can’t boot the device or access files on the hard drive without entering the encryption key.
This means encryption provides you with a powerful safeguard against unwanted attempts at access. While this is beneficial, storing the encryption key on a different device, like your phone or a USB drive, may be smart.
It’s also important to backup your data regularly.
If something jeopardizes your files, having a recent backup of information means the difference in a disaster or minor inconvenience.
You can find several cloud services that allow you to backup data quickly and easily. Another option is to use external drives to back up this information.
No matter what method you choose, it is important to back up your data regularly. This is especially important after you make a file you can’t lose.
Use a Privacy Screen
Have you heard of a shoulder surfing attack? These are more common than you may think.
People are curious creatures. They may glance at your screen while you are on a plane, in the library, or at a coffee shop.
If you want to prevent shoulder surfing attacks while increasing your privacy, consider using a privacy screen that will limit the viewable angles of your device.
You can find several options, and this is a smart investment that is highly recommended.
Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
While publicly accessible networks are convenient, like the ones offered at hotels and airports, they can pose a serious security risk for laptop users.
That’s because hackers now use all types of free programs to connect to these networks and eavesdrop on your emails and passwords as they pass over the network.
The most effective way to ensure your data is not intercepted by other users is by encrypting it while it moves between your computer and office network. It is possible to do this by using a VPN.
If your business doesn’t provide a VPN, you can purchase your own. With a VPN, you can feel confident your data will be encrypted and fully protected from other people using the local public network.
Increase Your Authentication
Your financial, professional, and social accounts are all accessible from your laptop. Because of this, you need to implement the best security measures to protect this information.
Using multi-factor authentication is highly recommended. With this, hackers can’t access your account, even if the right login credentials are used.
While this is a smart strategy, not all authentical factors provide the same level of protection.
Online account providers usually text a six-digit verification code to a user’s phone as a type of authentication. Unfortunately, hackers can easily intercept these and use the codes themselves.
A more effective form of laptop security is hard tokens, such as YubiKeys. When you use this type of security device with your laptop, you can easily authenticate web logins with or instead of using your password.
Quite a few popular online services now support YubiKey-based authentication.
With this, attackers can’t interfere with or replicate the YubiKeys. However, you do have to have them with you.
Install a WebCam Cover
One of the biggest sources of intrusion is the Remote Administration Tool or RAT that can turn on your camera and spy on you when it comes to privacy.
While the LED next to your camera should come on when it is recording, hackers have found ways to disable this warning.
The only sure way to keep voyeurs away is by installing a physical cover over your camera. With this, you can install and remove it as needed.
There are a lot of options, and you can purchase them for an affordable price. They make a smart investment.
Invest in Physical Security for Your Laptop
While this may sound obvious, the truth is, physical security for laptops requires you to keep an eye on your device. It is easy for someone to pick up your device and just walk off with it.
You should never leave your laptop unattended in public or a location that is not completely secure.
In locations like co-working areas and coffee shops, ensuring your laptop is secure is a must. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a lockable cable.
You can also install location-tracking software to help you recover your device if it is lost.
Improving Security on Laptops
If you want to improve security on laptops, you have a lot of options. As you can see from the information above, if you are smart and take the right steps, you can avoid extensive data loss and the physical theft of your device.
Taking time to invest in the security processes and devices mentioned above will also provide peace of mind that your device and data are secure.
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The author Dennis P. Reed possesses a vast experience in the IT industry, especially in the domains of website and mobile app development and digital marketing. He writes on topics encompassing the above mentioned domains and is considered a maven in his chosen field – Information Technology.