Security Checklist for Laptops

Your laptop offers a freedom of mobility that desktops can't match. Yet, this freedom includes some risk, because whenever you leave home with a laptop, you are taking personal and financial data with you. To keep your private information private, review a checklist of some of the most important things you can do to safeguard your information, either on a weekly or monthly basis.

Connect to a Secure Network

Networks that don't ask for a password or that use WEP encryption are not secure. To ensure your network uses WPA2 encryption, type "network connection" in Windows Search and select "Network Connection Settings." Select your connected Wi-Fi® network and look for the letters "WPA2" in the Security Type entry in the Properties section.

Change Your Password

Use a strong password to access your laptop and change it regularly. Your password shouldn't include any real words, names or dates; these are too easy to hack. It should be a mixture of letters and numbers, including capital letters. This makes it difficult for anyone to access your laptop if it's lost or stolen.

Update Your Software

By default, Windows® updates itself and your apps automatically. If you turned this feature off, install the recommended updates regularly. Updates may be a hassle, but they are much less trouble than dealing with a hacked laptop.

Scan for Viruses

Run a virus and malware scan on your computer. If your laptop is infected, the sooner you find out, the better.

Back Up Your Files

Because of their portability, laptops are subjected to more risks than desktops, like being dropped, lost or stolen. Back up your important files at least once a month to an external drive or USB flash drive. Keep that drive in a secure location.

Use Your Browser's Security Features

Whichever browser you use, make sure you enable its security features. Internet Explorer, for example, has a SmartScreen Filter that protects you against phishing attacks and malicious websites. To the naked eye, many of these websites are indistinguishable from legitimate websites, and they could include a replica of your bank's site.

'S' Means Secure Shopping

When you shop online, make sure the Web address begins with "https://" before entering your billing information. That "S" stands for "secure," meaning your credit card and other personal information is being encrypted before it leaves your laptop.

Photo Credits: Kris Robertson/Demand Media

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