Best Practices for Laptop Users
Laptop computers are smaller, lighter, and more competitively priced than ever before. More people are selecting laptops as their primary computer enabling them to be more mobile using wireless networks wherever they happen to be. While all users of computers should practice "safe computing", laptop users should be especially vigilant. Laptops are small and easy to steal - making them convenient targets for thieves. And because access to information (including personal/financial information) is conveniently available through the Internet, most people will access their various accounts using public wireless networks such as hotel & coffee shop networks. You should assume that anyone can see anything on the wireless network. Therefore, when accessing your financial institution's website (or other personal information), ensure that you have a secure web connection by looking for the locked lock icon in your browser.
Listed below are some tips to follow when using and traveling with laptops:
- Ensure that your laptop has all system and application security patches installed. (Securing Your Computer)
- Backup your laptop frequently.
- Physically secure the laptop with physical locking devices, especially if access to the laptop is relatively open.
- Do not leave the laptop unattended, even if only for a few minutes.
- Do not leave laptops in cars including car trunks.
- When traveling, do not leave the laptop in plain sight when not in your room. Secure the laptop in an in-room safe if available.
- Ensure that the laptop has strong passwords for all usernames.
- Configure your laptop to prompt for a password when it's powered on or waking from sleep/hibernation.
- If at all possible, DO NOT store sensitive information on the laptop.
- If absolutely necessary to keep sensitive information on the laptop, ensure that the information is encrypted. (PC encryption, Mac encryption)
- If using a public wireless network (hotel, internet cafe, airport wireless network) to access sensitive information, ensure that your traffic is encrypted. Make sure that the website you are using is a secured website (look for the lock on your browser) or use the UH VPN.
Additional tips on safeguarding your laptop can be found at:
- FTC - Laptop Security
- Keep Your Computer Secure At Home