Computer Security

An associate recently had his car broken into and his company laptop was among the items stolen. Luckily this was an older laptop and not a brand new purchase, however, the cost to his company is significant, including the effort to acquire a new laptop, configure and his decreased productivity as they re-install applications and recover backups of their data. The other concern is that sensitive and private data is in the hands of a very bad person now and while they will not be able to log into the laptop, should they choose to remove the hard drive they could access files which would give them access to company property and possibly saved passwords if the user wasn’t careful.

Tips for Physical Security

  • If at all possible, do not leave your laptop in your vehicle.
  • If you do have to leave it, please secure it in your trunk or another location where it is not visible. (This needs to be done before you park your vehicle, not after you park in a sketchy area)
  • For your phone or tablet, install a tracking application that will let you find your phone if you lose it. i.e. Android Device Manager or iCloud for iphones.

Tips for Data Security

  • Do not write any passwords down and especially do not keep them on a sticky note in your laptop bag.
  • Do not keep any passwords in a file on your laptop even if secured by a password. Hackers can access these files in just a few minutes.
  • Never allow your browser to store your passwords for you. That data is not secured on your laptop.
  • Make sure all work documents and data are kept on the company servers and not locally on the PC. VPN access to files is far better than copying files to your laptop.

Other Security issues

  • Use unique and long passwords for all online services and devices.
  • Use two factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Use a password security tool like Lastpass to generate and keep secure passwords.
  • Make sure all important data is backed up and stored in a secure location, not kept with your laptop.
  • Keep your software (OS and applications) up to date. Most hacks occur using outdated software with known vulnerabilities.
  • Make sure your firewall is active.
  • Make sure your anti-virus is up to date. If you don’t know how to check, ask for help.
  • Make sure anything you plug into your PC is clean. USB drives can quickly infect a workstation with a virus from another computer.
  • Don’t install software from sources that are not authorized. If you need software on your PC and you aren’t sure if it is safe, ask for help.
  • Shutdown, lock, or logoff when leaving your PC at work, and at home.
  • If you receive a popup warning that your PC has been hacked DO NOT CALL the phone number to have someone help you fix the problem. Instead, do a factory reset on your browser and then reboot your computer and/or seek professional help.

Recommended viewing

The NOVA show on PBS, Rise of the Hackers.