Securing digital devices is important regardless of the type of computer being used — desktop computers, tablet computers, laptop computers, and smartphones all have inherent security caveats that should be considered before rolling them out for business or personal use. One of the primary headlines seen on news networks regards illegal computer hackers exploiting either known or unknown software “holes” in computers — these are the most common types of computer security issues.
Sometimes these security holes are preventable in that computer manufacturers release patches to fix them — unfortunately and in some cases, the patches are not released until it’s too late — security patches can be hardware, but most of the time they are software that can be downloaded from the manufacturer of the computer or product being used.
There are other types of potential computer security vulnerabilities that should be taken into consideration as well. The potential for unauthorized physical access and network access including authentication methods should be considered even though these types of access are often accomplished through exploiting software security holes.
The most common way computer users access their devices is by direct physical use — this is in contrast to accessing devices or services such as file servers, data backup storage whether network/internet-based or not, or perhaps internet-based software services such as Microsoft Office 365. Some computers are more easily stolen than others. As an example, desktop computers are not as easily stolen as laptops, tablets, or smartphones — the latter is far more easily concealed and carried away. Because of this, devices that are designed to be portable should be generally better-secured. Don’t walk away from portable computers that are plugged into charging stations in public venues — they are an easy target for those looking to steal — and don’t leave portable devices in cars that are easily broken into.
Using device encryption and strong passwords can be of great help if and when a device is somehow stolen. Computer encryption is the scrambling of its data so that it’s rendered not legible — encrypted data cannot be unencrypted without a password. Encryption can be accomplished via hardware built into computers, but often it can be accomplished via programs or APPs that are installed after purchasing a device. If encryption is not a step one wishes to take as it can cause somewhat of a performance nuisance on a device, causing “sluggishness”, then at minimum a password should be set up on the portable device in question — this is so that a thief cannot easily access the data therein giving the victim time to mitigate the problem or create resolutions.
Network access to computers is another matter. Network access is the concept that data on a computer can be accessed via a network or internet connection. Securing devices from unauthorized network access usually encompasses computer security on a software level — the software is found in different layers of the network over which data travels — computers, routers, modems, and switches are all types of hardware devices that have security software built into them in order to help protect against unauthorized network access.
The kind of software most computer users are familiar with is the antivirus software that can be installed on computers. Although this is a great layer of protection in the fight against unauthorized network access, an improperly configured antivirus suite could render a computer sluggish — certainly, no more than one antivirus program should be installed and monitoring a computer simultaneously. Generally, antivirus systems, if left unchecked and not properly configured can cause undesired interruptions while using the device it’s installed on.
A lot of information about antivirus software can be learned from the manuals produced by their manufacturers — this concept is not limited to antivirus software, either. Network routers, modems, and switches come with manuals that offer great insight in layman’s terms into security features of the devices they refer to.