Personal Security Practices Vol. 2

A computer mouse hovers over the word “security.”By: James O’Rell

Keeping our data safe at home is just as important as keeping it safe at work. Here are some more tips on how to keep yourself and your information out of the hands of those who would take advantage of it.

Verify browser security:

When browsing online, especially when shopping or entering any sort of information, you should confirm that the site is using secure browsing. This is very easy to do:

  1. Notice the address. A secure site will use https:// in the URL (Unified Resource Locator). HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.
  2. To make sure the connection is working properly, you should find a lock icon somewhere near the URL, as shown in the screenshot below of Firefox for Mac OS. Click on it to ensure the connection is secure.

Internet Bowser bar showing the words secure connection

Ensure your mobile device is secure

Much of our daily technology use centers around our mobile devices. We need to ensure these devices are secure. Here are a few ways to protect your mobile device:

  1. VPNs: As discussed in the previous article, VPNs are great at protecting you when you can’t trust the network you are on. They are available for your mobile device, in addition to your laptop.
  2. Screen locking and password protection: Make sure your device locks when idle and requires a password, pin, or biometric data (i.e. fingerprint or facial recognition) to be opened. This way, if someone gets ahold of your device, it will be far more difficult for them to access your data.
  3. Full disk encryption: In tandem with locking your device with a password or other such method, you can use full disk encryption. If your device falls into someone else’s hands, they may try bypassing your lock screen by accessing the storage medium directly. If you have full disk encryption, the data on your device can only be accessed by using your credentials on your phone. You can find out more how to encrypt your mobile device here.

Full Disk Encryption on Computer

If you have a laptop that goes with you as you travel, or if you worry about the possibility that your desktop machine could be taken, it’s best to keep the disk encrypted to help prevent your personal information from falling into hostile hands, in case your machine is lost or stolen. Even if the wrong person has your machine, they will fail to get into the contents of your disk without the key, which is tied to your credentials. Windows has Bitlocker and macOS has FileVault. You can find instructions on how to enable these on Windows 10 and OSX Lion or later here.

It’s important to keep looking out for the latest and greatest threats to ensure we have the technology to battle them. Keeping our information safe is particularly important now that many have merged their home and work lives. At home and other places, we don’t always have our security professionals to keep us safe; we need to take steps of own to ensure our data remains private.