Modern laptops have become so powerful that small business owners are relying on them more than desktops. They’re portable and lightweight, giving users the freedom to work in any location. But crucial applications and data may be at risk if your laptop isn’t properly secured. That’s why it’s important to take note of these laptop security best practices.
Lock your laptop
To prevent unauthorized access to your data, you must have a password that’s difficult to guess. This means you can’t use your birthday, your cat’s name, the name of your significant other, or your address.
If you ever need to leave your laptop unattended, you can set your screensaver to start automatically and ask for a password to go back to your desktop. Also, make sure the password you use is unique — that is, you aren’t using it (or have used it) on other devices and online services you’re registered to. If you find this process tedious, you can use a password manager.
Managing several passwords is a small price to pay when it comes to protecting your precious data.
Establish password refresh policies
For extra security, it’s also important to implement the following password policies:
- Password history policy
This will set how often an old password can be used and is implemented with a minimum of 10 previous passwords remembered. This prevents you from reusing and alternating between previous passwords, so cybercriminals won’t be able to detect a pattern in your password usage.
- Minimum password age policy
This determines how long you must keep your password before you can change it. After changing passwords, some users tend to switch back to an old password because they’re easier to remember. This policy sets a minimum time frame — usually three to seven days — to make sure that users are less prone to switch back to an old (and potentially compromised) password.
- Maximum password age policy
This determines how long you can keep your password before you have to change it. This makes sure that users change their passwords and passphrases (similar to passwords but are generally longer for added security) regularly — 90 days for passwords and 180 days for passphrases.
Encrypt your hard drive
Having a password is not enough to prevent an attacker from accessing your files. If your laptop is stolen, the hacker can remove the hard drive and read your files directly. To protect your data from these kinds of attacks, encrypt your laptop’s hard drive. Advanced encryption systems will convert your hard drive files into indecipherable code, making it difficult for hackers and unauthorized users to access your files unless they have the decryption key.
If you want an extra layer of protection, you can also add a multifactor authentication (MFA) to your disk encryption. It is an authentication method in which a computer requires two or more pieces of information (factors) to verify a user’s identity for login.
For instance, before accessing your hard drive, you can require a password, a code that’s sent to your phone, and an answer to a security question. That way, if a hacker somehow guesses your password, they still can’t access your files without the other authentication factors.
Store your important data in the cloud
Considering the prevalence of ransomware attacks and data breaches, you must have several copies of your data. You can decide between a local and a cloud backup, but if you want to secure your files from all sorts of threats, including natural calamities and physical attacks, the cloud is your best bet.
The cloud has several security solutions that ensure business continuity such as:
- Protection against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks – The cloud provider restricts the traffic toward the cloud server to decrease the probability of a cyberattack.
- Security of data from malware – The cloud provider protects both data at rest and in transit. They also consistently update their anti-malware and antivirus software to prevent a host of cyberattacks.
- 24/7/365 monitoring – They track all the actions performed on your data and immediately respond to any unusual activities that may indicate a security breach.
- Disaster recovery solutions – A detailed process that focuses on resuming critical business operations while minimizing revenue losses after a disaster, such as a natural calamity or a cyberattack.
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