How to protect your laptop and data

Whether you use your laptop for official purposes or personal use, it’s almost sure you would like to keep both safe and secure. Moving around with a laptop can involve significant risks because the data on your laptop is more vulnerable when you are travelling than when you are working at your office or home.

Many people take data security for granted. They think it is safely stored on their laptop away from anybody’s access. But they are not aware that it won’t even take a minute for hackers to steal all information, account details, and passwords if you have not paid attention to your system’s security. Once you buy a laptop, you need to make sure that the laptop and data is well protected, always.

Well, is your data safe? How do you plan to keep your system secure? No idea? Fret not, we’ve got your back! For a better understanding, the following information is divided into three sections. So you can concentrate on your area and choose your safety according to your priority. Let’s begin!

1. Mandatory steps

This section includes necessary steps that everyone must follow to make sure their data and information are safe.

  • Set a strong system password

This is one of the primary and essential steps for restricting other people from getting to your documents. Make sure your system and Windows account are password protected. Your laptop must ask for a password whenever you switch on your system, or it turns on from sleep or hibernation. Avoid using predictable passwords such as your birthday, girlfriend’s name, or anything that has a higher probability of being detected.

  • Disable booting from foreign devices

Your account’s password can be easily changed by using password resetting software like pogostick or Ophcrack. But this method involves booting your system from an external device such as a USB or CD. Thus, by disabling the feature of booting the system from an external device can increase system security. In my opinion, it’s better to password protect your BIOS so that no one makes further changes in the system settings except you.

  • Encrypt your hard drive

A system password is not enough to protect your data if your laptop gets stolen. The thief can easily access your data by taking out your laptop’s hard drive and connecting it with his system. This process bypasses all security checks and allows the other person to access all files. Thus, encrypt your laptop’s data using software like BitLocker to prevent it from physical attacks.  Encrypted hard drives can only be accessed after providing the encryption key.

  • Create data backup

We live in a digital world, the era of cloud. Online data backup is currently the preferred mode for significant file storage. It is essential to create data backup to retrieve your information in case of hard drive failure or malfunction. Storing the file on cloud (online) permits access to the file from different systems as well. Since your document is stored online in the cloud, it can be easily accessed over the internet to make changes on another system. Some big guns of this field are DropBox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc. All these products provide 2 GB free online storage, which can be increased upon paying for their premium version.

  • Install Antivirus software

Antivirus is a data security application that protects your system from viruses, rootkits, and other cyber-attacks. If a virus enters your system, it can spread and deteriorate the system’s performance. Antivirus is installed to fight against the virus and take a shot at removing it from the system. It eliminates not only the virus but also protects your system from future virus attacks. The most trusted antivirus software are McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky, and Bitdefender.

  • Keep your system and software updated

The primary method to keep your system malware-free is by not downloading unwanted things. Nowadays, auto-update is enabled by default in standard applications like Chrome and Firefox, yet you need to maintain a random check. It is preferred to facilitate auto-update feature for installed apps and your operating system to download the latest security patches.

2. Secure your privacy

This section talks about the essential steps to increase your laptop privacy protection.

  • Add a privacy screen

While working outside with a laptop at a park, library, or a café, shoulder surfing is the most common problem faced by almost everyone. Out of curiousness, people naturally start glancing at your screen. This can be avoided by adding a privacy screen. A privacy screen limits the viewing angels while holding the luminosity required for you to look at the screen comfortably. Thus, enhance your privacy by adding a privacy screen.

  • Add a webcam cover

You must have heard of the infamous DarkComet, a remote administration tool used to switch on your laptop’s camera and interfere with your privacy. By default, the LED next to your camera is supposed to remain on with your camera, but hackers have found a way to disable it. The only way to restrict them is by using physical webcam covers which can be removed when required. Recently there was a big scam where private videos and photos of many people around the world were leaked online. After this incident, people have become much aware and have started using webcam covers to enhance their privacy.

  • Enable firewall

A firewall works as a barrier between the internet and your system. It closes the ports of a laptop to restrict communication with the system. It protects your system from malicious software by acting as a shield. The firewall allows only selected and trusted applications to access the ports based on the settings.

Modern operating systems (WindowsXP onwards) come with an in-built firewall that can be found under System & Security option in Control Panel. Some of the free firewall options are TinyWall and Comodo.  

  • Install VPN software

 It is recommended to use a VPN service while working on public Wi-Fi. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It restricts users on the same network from looking at your browser history or tracking your work, by encrypting the traffic between your system and the server. Thus, it keeps your privacy intact while working on shared networks. I would personally recommend ExpressVPN because of its excellent privacy policy.

3. Add-on safety

This section includes steps to further secure your laptop from physical damages and getting stolen.

  • Use a Kensington cable to lock your laptop

If you work in a shared office or prefer working in open places like a cafe, there is a high risk of your laptop being stolen when left unattended. To avoid such cases, you can tie your laptop with a table or something substantial using a Kensington cable. This cable is pretty similar to a bicycle lock, which you must have used to secure your bicycle in childhood.

  • Enable location finding

Enabling the location-finding feature acts as a saviour if you lose your laptop, or unfortunately, it gets stolen. You can quickly pinpoint the location of your laptop on the map. There is a built-in feature known as “Find my Mac” on Apple laptops. You simply need to access your iCloud account to get the current location of your device, only if it is enabled. Windows 10 users also get a built-in feature called “Find my device.” Log in to your Microsoft account to track your missing laptop.

  • Purchase a laptop cover

Add a laptop cover to protect your laptop from scratches or physical damage due to falling. These covers also improve the appearance of the laptop. A hardcover is recommended for people who don’t carry the laptop in a bag. However, a silicon cover is sufficient for those who have a laptop bag.

  • Purchase accidental physical damage cover

If you travel a lot or work out of cafes etc. where there is a fair chance of getting into accidental physical damage or spilling water or coffee on your laptop, you can purchase accidental damage protection. Almost all global brands like Dell and HP offer optional extra cover which can be purchased.

Thus, it can be concluded that by showing a little effort and following a few necessary steps, one can go far towards protecting their privacy and making their laptop and data much more secure.


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