Protecting Your Laptop
Public Wifi Connection Best Practices
One weakness that users may not be aware of is connecting to a public wifi connection. When you do this, you should ensure that you have a firewall running, and that any folder sharing is disabled. You should only use secure websites (https://) for email, banking, and anything else personal and/or private. You can even use an SSH tunnel to connect to a trusted computer (like one at home or at the office), and use that computer to connect to the internet. This would cause anyone watching your internet traffic to see only encrypted information between your computer and a single destination (the trusted computer you connected to).
Another problem users often overlook while in public places is shoulder-surfing.
Following these guidelines, in addition to those provided by Anderson, will help keep you laptop and data safe.
Additional Online Resources
- 10 steps you can take to secure a laptop.
- Top 10 ways to secure your mobile phone
- Laptop tracking software: 8 apps to track your lost or stolen PC
Laptop Security Recommendations
Low Security (minimum security measures that should be taken)
- Backup your data regularly onto a form of removable media: an external hard drive, CD, DVD, etc.
- Install and update antivirus and firewall software, automatic updates and anti-spyware software.
- The students should register all software, including the operating system, with the appropriate software manufacturer. Laptops should also be registered with the manufacturer (e.g. Dell).
- Never leave your laptop in an unlocked vehicle, or in plain sight, regardless of where you are parked.
- Configure a BIOS and Windows login password.
- Password protect your screensaver.
- Always be sure to lock the laptop if you leave the laptop in a classroom but the better practice would be to take the laptop when you leave the classroom.
- Purchase an extended warranty for the laptop.
- Ensure the laptop is always up to date with patches.
Medium Security (additional actions that can be taken to increase the security/safety of your system)
- Purchase your laptop with CompuTrace and StopTheft* (http://www.computrace.com).
- Do not leave computer in any vehicle locked or unlocked, vehicles are extremely easy to break into and often the purpose is to steal the contents, not the vehicle itself.
- When carrying your laptop, place it in a backpack or briefcase that is not specifically used or labeled as a laptop carrying case [if you plan on carrying your laptop in a case that is not designed to carry computers you may want to purchase some form of padding or slip for your system. Heavy books and rough treatment that most school bags receive are not conducive to laptop longevity].
- Be aware of your physical location and those around you. Remember that people can see through windows.
- If possible, do not connect to unprotected wireless connections.
- Purchase encryption software to secure the data on your hard drive, especially if you have sensitive information on board.
- Each user on the system should have a login password [Strong passwords are recommended. They should be at least 8 characters long and contain at least two of Capital letter, number and/or special character along with normal lowercase alpha characters].
- Review your home owners or renters insurance and confirm that your laptop is protected from theft while away from your residence.
- Make your laptop artistically unique. Mark your laptop with some type of permanent marking to distinguish it from other laptops.
- Disable auto complete features as well as password memory.
High Security (additional actions for increased security)
- Consider purchasing a steel cable laptop lock that you could lock to the desk.
- Purchase computer insurance (http://www.safeware.com).
- Carry your laptop with you at all times [Pick out a comfortable bag or a small laptop to reduce back/shoulder fatigue (carrying uneven, heavy loads for long periods can have negative effects on your physical health].
- Antivirus, firewall and spyware software should only allow the minimum of traffic, especially if you are operating in an unknown or open network.
- Disable sharing of laptop services such as Bluetooth, Windows Media Player.
- Disable infrared port on the laptop.
- If you have the ability or need, use the NTFS file system for your Windows partition.
- Disable the Windows guest account on the laptop.
- Disable boot-by-USB / CD or other removable media.
- Install a physical proximity alarm
- Rename the administrator account.
- If possible, implement biometric locks on the laptop.