10 Tips to Keep Your Laptop Secure

Unfortunately business laptops are hacked, attacked and stolen everyday somewhere in the UK.

This is unavoidable however you can make your laptop much more secure by following the tips mentioned below.

1. Activate a Firewall on Your Laptop

If you are using Windows or macOS you can activate the built-in firewalls software designed to create a barrier between your information and the outside world. Firewalls prevent unauthorised access to your laptop and alert you to any intrusion attempts.

2. Install antivirus software on Your Laptop

Computer viruses and malware are everywhere. Antivirus programs such as Bitdefender, Malwarebytes and Avast protect your laptop against unauthorised code or software that may threaten your operating system. Viruses may have easy-to-spot effects – for example, they might slow your laptop or delete key files – or they may be less conspicuous. Antivirus software plays a major role in protecting your system by detecting real-time threats to ensure your data is safe. Some advanced antivirus programs provide automatic updates, further protecting your laptop from the new viruses that emerge every day. After you install an antivirus program, don't forget to use it. Run or schedule regular virus scans to keep your computer virus-free.

3. Install anti-spyware on Your Laptop

Antivirus software is not enough on its own to keep you protected these days. Spyware is a special kind of software that secretly monitors and collects personal or organisational information. It is designed to be hard to detect and difficult to remove and tends to deliver unwanted ads or search results that are intended to direct you to certain (often malicious) websites. Some spyware records every keystroke (keylogging) to gain access to passwords and other financial information. Anti-spyware concentrates exclusively on this threat, but it is often included in major antivirus packages, like those from McAfee and Norton. Anti-spyware packages provide real-time protection by scanning all incoming information and blocking threats.

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4. Use complex Passwords on Your Laptop

Using secure passwords is the most important way to prevent network intrusions. The more secure your passwords are, the harder it is for a hacker to invade your system. More secure often means longer and more complex. Use a password that has at least eight characters and a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and computer symbols. Hackers have an arsenal of tools to break short, easy passwords in minutes. Don't use recognisable words or combinations that represent birthdays or pets names for example and don't reuse passwords, either.

5. Keep your OS, apps and browsers up-to-date on Your laptop

Always install new operating system updates. Most updates include security fixes that prevent hackers from accessing and exploiting your data. The same goes for apps. Today's web browsers are increasingly sophisticated, especially in privacy and security. Be sure to review your browser security settings in addition to installing all new updates. For example, you can use your browser to prevent websites from tracking your movements, which increases your online privacy. Or, use a private web browser.

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6. Ignore spam emails on Your Laptop

Beware of email messages from unknown parties, and never click on links or open attachments that accompany them. Inbox spam filters have gotten pretty good at catching the most conspicuous spam. But more sophisticated phishing emails that mimic your friends, associates and trusted businesses (like your bank) have become common, so keep your eyes open for anything that looks or sounds suspicious. If in doubt delete, if it is someone who really needs to contact you they will find another way.

7. Back up your laptop

If you are not already backing up your hard drive, you should begin doing so immediately. Backing up your information is critical in case hackers do succeed in getting through and trashing your system. Or use the cloud to keep your data safe, Google drive and Micorosoft Onedrive are popular options and are free to use, but with limited capacity unless you pay for more space.

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8. Use two-factor authentication on Your Laptop

Passwords are the first line of defence against computer hackers, but a second layer boosts protection. Many sites let you enable two-factor authentication, which boosts security because it requires you to type in a numerical code – sent to your phone or email address – in addition to your password when logging in.

9. Use encryption on Your Laptop

Even if cybercriminals gain access to your laptops files, encryption can prevent them from accessing any of that information. You can encrypt your Windows or macOS hard drive with BitLocker (Windows) or FileVault (Mac), encrypt any USB flash drive that contains sensitive information and use a VPN to encrypt web traffic. Only shop at encrypted websites; you can spot them immediately by the "https" in the address bar, accompanied by a closed-padlock icon.

10. Don't use unsecured public Wi-Fi

Protect your laptop by not using password-free, widely used Wi-Fi networks which have no security features. As such, they're prime targets for computer hackers.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

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Owner of smallmediumbusiness.co.uk, technical specialist who has a passion for the environment and loves his tech.