Tips for Securing Your Computer or Mobile Device to Protect Against Hackers, Loss, or Theft

I recently attended the 2nd Annual Wild West Hacking Fest in Deadwood, South Dakota to discuss the latest about information security and hacking.

The conference was a meeting of bright minds all interested in technology and security. At LuminFire, we continually invest in our education through events and training so we can provide our clients with the right up-to-date and trusted advice. The conference was a reminder of the importance of maintaining secure computing devices. Here we’ve summarized a few security tips that are applicable to everyone.

1. Secure Your Passwords
 Use passwords of at least 20 characters and do not use the same password twice. If your password gets breached from a website hack or data loss, you limit any hacker from gaining access to any of your other accounts. But if you have hundreds of passwords, how do you remember them? Use a password vault like 1Password or LastPass to store them. Simply sign up for their service and install the app. From there, start resetting your passwords and add them to the vault as you move through your daily routine.

2. Turn on 2-Factor Authentication Whenever Possible
 Using this requires a password AND access to a mobile device to access an account. This adds a layer of protection. Social media, communication outlets, financial services, and any site with personal or intellectual value should be protected as much as you can tolerate.

3. Email Address Sharing via Groups
 If you’re sharing an account with someone, try to use email groups for inbound email, and a private individual email addresses for outbound. In the event of a breach you can redirect the account to a different email address.

4. Secure Your Mobile Phone Carrier
 Call your mobile phone carrier and request higher security, or to upgrade the passcode on the account — especially if your mobile phone can be used to validate your identity for financial or corporate services.

5. Keep Your Software and Operating Systems Up to Date
 Software engineers are providing code fixes and patches for known vulnerabilities on a regular basis. Updating will make your devices run better and make your devices more secure. It’s an especially a good idea to update everything before you travel, as you’ll generally be on public networks and in environments with less security controls. (Consult an expert before making major operating system upgrades. You always want your OS to be the oldest software on your workstation so all your apps are compatible.)

6. Make Backups
 Backups protect against data loss as well as protect you in the case that your device is lost, stolen or damaged in travel. Make a backup before you leave and at regular intervals (at minimum — monthly). Services such as Backblaze are affordable and provide great protection. Follow the 3–2–1 backup policy: 3 copies, separated by 2 locations, equals 1 backup.

7. Use Full Disk Encryption
 On macOS, this service is called FileVault; on Windows it’s called Bitlocker. Both services are free, and prevent or severely limit data loss if your device is stolen, or physical access is attained.

8. Password Protect / Lock Your Devices
 Your devices should be password protected, and should not boot without a password. The timeout for locking down your computer or mobile device should be as low as you can tolerate. The lower the timeout for lock down the better. Ideally, 3 minutes or less.

9. Power off during Security Checkpoints
 When passing through international borders or through other security checkpoints, power off your devices completely. In conjunction with full disk encryption, this step will prevent someone from tampering with your device while it is not in your possession.

Proper security requires ongoing maintenance. If you’re not concerned about security issues at your organization you could be open to serious business risks. Connect with us for a security audit of your website, FileMaker solution, or Apple macOS/iOS devices.


Originally published at LuminFire.