Securing Your Personal Computing Devices

The average person uses a variety of computing devices on a daily basis. These include desktop computers, laptops, tablets, phones and wearable devices like an Apple Watch or Fitbit. While the size, shape and use of these devices can differ greatly, ways to secure them are quite similar and T&M’s cyber security experts offer the following suggestions for securing your personal computing devices.

securing personal home computing devices

There are 2 facets of security to consider when securing your devices: logical and physical. Logical security protects access to your computer devices through means such as authentication and encryption. Physical security protects the physical area around your devices. Common examples of physical security include locks, cameras and alarms.

Logical security is involved in all aspects of computing. It’s seen on the web with website logins, with software to verify that you are a licensed user and on the computer itself to verify you have access to the machine. The most basic form of logical security is a combination of a user ID and a password. User IDs are usually non-private identifiers that act as a username or online alias. Passwords are private, secret phrases used to authenticate that the person typing in a particular user ID is indeed the correct individual associated with the ID.

There are additional layers of authentication that can be added to increase the strength of logical security, such as token (or “two factor”) authentication. RSA SecurID is an example of a common token authentication platform. Token authentication uses a random number that changes about every minute and must be provided in addition to a username and password. The constantly changing token is generated from a small keychain sized device that syncs up with the login authentication server. The use of an authentication token ensures that even if your password is leaked or hacked, your account is still secure, as the hackers would also need access to the physical device that generates the token. A more advanced form of logical security is biometric authentication. This form pairs login information with some form of personal biometric information such as fingerprint, eye retina, voice recognition or facial patterns. While this may seem extremely high-tech and included in only the most extravagant of smart homes, fingerprint scanners and voice recognition software are becoming featured in many modern smart phones and are only going to become more common.

Physical security is an extremely broad topic. Examples of physical security may include fences, alarm systems, locks, cameras and security personnel. T&M encourages everyone to think about the physical security of their digital devices. A computer with a password on it isn’t very secure if it is physically stolen, granting criminals unlimited time to crack the password and steal whatever information is on the hard drive. Additionally, consider the physical security of your external hard drives and flash drives. A drive with scans of personal documents like driver’s licenses, passports, or social security cards should be treated with the same level of security as the physical paper versions themselves. Drives containing personal information should be locked in a safe, as well as protected with logical security measures.

T&M recommends that everyone consider a combination of logical and physical security measures to safeguard their personal computing devices. The more layers of security protection that are in-place, the safer your personal data will be.

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