Cybersecurity is no longer a term, reserved only for the super paranoid nerds and/or conspiracy theorists. With hackers getting increasingly creative and proactive, your computer security needs to be at the top of its game, especially if you’re someone whose data is a juicy catch.
In that spirit, we’ve put together some of the key areas that together make up cybersecurity best practices and features to look out for when purchasing a laptop.
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If you’re reading this article, chances are a simple password isn’t secure enough for you. Passwords can be guessed and replicated, but certain features of your own body cannot.
Biometric security features fall into two categories: fingerprint scanners and facial recognition, both of which are pretty self-explanatory. Of the two, facial recognition is more sophisticated and secure.
Smart Card Reader
Smart card readers are considered a step above biometric authentication toward the ultimate cybersecurity. It’s basically a physical card which then requires a PIN.
To make this feature even more desirable, it’s very cheap – it usually costs around $20 and can be added as an upgrade at the checkout stage of the purchase. Its low cost and practicality make it particularly suitable for large companies and enterprises that need to get computers in bulk for their employees while still maintaining a decent level of security.
Smart card readers also come in external forms that go into your USB.
Chances are you’ve heard the term “encryption” before. Encryption renders your data unreadable without the password, required to decode it.
This is the last line of defense against the physical theft of a computer – in such an unfortunate event, the password holds no power since the thief can simply plug your hard drive in another computer. As such, encryption is indispensable, especially if you think you are at particular risk of physical theft.
Some laptops come with a special chip, attached to their motherboards, called a trusted platform module. What it does is it enables encryption on a hardware level, meaning accessing your data goes through a special password that is split between your internal drive and the trusted platform module. This way, neither remote access alone through hacking, nor physical access alone through stealing, are enough for anyone to get their hands on your data.
Lock slot may seem a little trivial, however, sometimes the meat and potatoes work best.
If a bicycle chain and a briefcase 4-digit combination lock had a child, it’d be a lock slot.
Look for laptops and/or business notebooks with a Kensington lock slot, which is the official name. A Kensington cable costs between $30 and $50, and it needs to be compatible with your computer’s slot.
As a feature, Intel vPro is somewhat reminiscent of a trusted platform module, in that it operates on a hardware level. Intel vPro actually refers to a group of security features rather than a single one, all of which allow you to control a system even when it’s turned off and respectively to track it and even cut out access to it.
Even though in this post, we are providing information on key cybersecurity features rather than specific recommendations, you can’t discuss this topic and not mention Chromebook, because the Chrome operating system was designed precisely with cybersecurity in mind.
There are two main reasons why Chromebooks are more secure by default.
The first one is the simplicity of their fairly stripped-down operating system which works with a specific set of programs. In order for a virus to take over, it first needs to trick your computer into thinking it’s one of its own, so to speak, the same way a detective goes undercover – a black man could never infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan because he could never blend in.
Because Chromebooks only work with a limited number of programs, there are far fewer openings for viruses to penetrate their system.
The second reason is Chromebooks’ internal storage, which is reminiscent of the final boss in a video game – beating it goes through several levels.
For one, obtaining unauthorized access to it is easier said than done and can trigger safety nets that wipe the storage out. Then, the contents are encrypted. Finally, most of the data is actually stored on Google Cloud, so even if they make it this far, hackers will probably feel like a thief who cracks open a safe only to find a mocking note.
With a wise combination of these features, your computer will feel like a fortress which only some ingenious Trojan Horse could ever break into.