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Laptop computer ownership has likely hit its point of consumer saturation given that almost 80% of the country either owns a portable or stationary computer. In laymen’s terms, a ton of people own laptops.
With people using their laptops to do work, surf the web, finish school projects, and more, all while on the go, what do you think the odds are that those machines could fall victim to a cyber attack?
As it turns out, the odds are pretty grim.
Millions of cyber attacks are carried out daily with the aim of finding machines that don’t secure personal data. When that personal data is found, hackers can hold it ransom, resell it, or do more insidious things.
If that frightens you and you’d like to know how to keep the data on your laptop secure, this post has you covered. Below, we go over a handful of simple security tips.
1. Password Protect Your Machine
One of the easiest ways that hackers can access your personal data is by walking up to your computer and logging onto it. The first line of defense that keeps people from doing this successfully is your computer’s password.
While most computers prompt you to set a password when you first set them up, an alarming amount of people forgo password protection or put in simple passwords like “1234”. We understand that simple or no passwords make accessing your computer convenient but remember, if it’s easy for you to access your personal data, it’s easy for hackers as well.
Take setting your computer’s password seriously and you’ll severely lower your chances of falling victim to a cybercrime.
2. Avoid Browser Key Chains
The internet asks us to remember a lot of passwords. In an effort to reduce the burden of that ask, most browsers have what are called “key chains” that auto-fill the passwords you need to access your online data.
Again, while convenient for you, this also makes accessing a treasure trove of data simple for a hacker if they were to ever steal your laptop.
In a perfect world, you’d forgo browser key chains altogether. If that’s not a possibility, at least make it so your browser prompts you once per session for your master password before unlocking all of your sites.
3. Turn on Auto-Lock
If you’re like most people, you’ve occasionally walked away from your laptop to use the restroom or to grab something to eat. When you walk away from your machine, do you always remember to lock it?
We’re guessing the answer is no.
To take the burden off of you to remember to secure your machine, consider using your computer’s auto-lock feature. This feature will automatically lock your machine after a designated period of inactivity.
We recommend setting your lock timer to 5-minutes.
4. Encrypt Your Hard Drive
Imagine if there was a way that even if your laptop was stolen by the government, you could keep the information on your machine safe… As it turns out there is!
Data encryption is the process of scrambling every piece of information on your computer. Once scrambled, a very complicated master key needs to be entered for any information from your machine to be read.
With a good encrypting tool like BitLocker or VerCrypt, unscrambling data without a master key, even when tackled by the most skilled minds in computing, will likely be impossible.
5. Invest in an Anti Virus
Several data heists are carried out with the help of a computer virus. For example, you might be browsing the internet one day and decide to download free photo editing software.
That software may be coupled with a virus that, once installed, will relay all of your personal data to a third-party.
The best way to avoid that fate is to not download strange programs online. The second best way is to have an antivirus that will alert you if it senses that something you’ve downloaded is harboring malware.
There are several online anti-virus programs that can be acquired online for free.
6. Have a Data Backup Solution
Secure personal data is data that’s backed up in at least two places. That’s an old adage that’s tossed around the computing community that we couldn’t agree more with.
If you’re looking for data backup solutions, you might start with subscribing to a cloud storage service that can automatically backup your hard drive on a scheduled basis. You might also consider learning how to clone hard drive of Mac or PC machines so you can have physical backups available.
7. Keep Your Machine up to Date
The software on your computer is filled with flaws. These flaws are discovered by hackers that then quietly exploit them to gain access to your personal information.
Understanding that their software is imperfect, companies like Windows regularly release patches that plug issues they find which could present risks to your security. By keeping your machine up to date, you allow your laptop to be as secure on a foundational level as possible.
You Now Know How to Secure Personal Data on Your Laptop
When you aim to secure personal data on your laptop, know that there’s no single solution you can implement to protect yourself. Protection comes from leaning on a variety of solutions that work in tandem to fend off multiple angles of attack.
We hope the education we’ve given you on data security helps you use your computer with confidence. Should you need additional guidance, browse more of the technology solutions on our blog.