Would you leave your wallet in the middle of the road?

No, because it wouldn’t be safe. But what about your laptop? If you don’t have a secure laptop, that’s the virtual equivalent of leaving your wallet in the street — your personal data is exposed for anyone to take and view.

Keeping your computer safe is necessary to protect its contents and your sensitive data.

Read on to learn the best steps to take to keep your laptop safe from dangers like malware, theft, damage, and viruses. By being proactive, you can easily keep your valuable laptop confidential and safe.

Use a Secure Password

The first step to laptop protection is the simplest, create a strong password. It seems obvious, but this is your first line of defense against unwanted use of your computer. Always avoid the obvious, such as your name, street address, or pet name. A good password should be at least 12 characters, including a mix of lower and upper case, numbers, and symbols.

Change your password regularly and don’t write it down near your desk or in your wallet.

Use a VPN

A VPN, or virtual private network, helps with laptop security. They work to connect your laptop to websites via a third party, remote site. The advantages of this include getting around firewalls, fast connection speeds, and secure encryption and privacy.

This ensures any data that you put online won’t fall into the wrong hands, such as sensitive financial or personal information. They help you stay anonymous, securely share files, and you can even access your computer remotely.

Here’s how to setup VPN on Mac for when you need a secure connection from a remote location.

Backup Your Data

You should have a backup of all of your important data. Otherwise, if your laptop is stolen, misplaced, or malfunctions, nothing will be lost.

This can be done via cloud storage, such as Google Drive, iCloud, or IDrive. The price of a small monthly subscription is worth the peace of mind of knowing your data is safe.

Or, you may want to use an external hard drive to back everything up. They are portable and compact, and as easy to use as a simple USB. Both methods are effective and secure, it just depends on your preferences.

Use a Secure Email Provider

When creating a new email account, look for a company that offers security and encryption for all incoming and outgoing messages, as well as personal data. Protonmail is known for its high levels of security, as are Gmail and Microsoft Outlook.

A larger provider, such as those mentioned above, can usually offer more privacy and safety features than smaller internet service provider companies, that offer free email accounts when signing up for their service.

Travel With a Secure Laptop Case

To keep your laptop safe, you want to protect it not only from malware or hacking but also protect its exterior. As a delicate and expensive piece of technology, you’ll want to invest in a quality laptop case or backpack.

Ideally, look for a case that has a few different features. Padding and casing are important to guard against accidental drops or falls.

However, a case with anti-theft technology also provides security, especially when traveling. Look for a case that can be locked and also is made from a slash or cut-proof fabric. Waterproofing and hidden zipper compartments also help.

Install Antivirus Software

Using antivirus software, and keeping it up to date, is essential to keeping your laptop safe from viruses. Without regular updates, there’s no point in even installing, because you won’t have effective protection.

Antivirus software works to detect and remove viruses and malware from your computer. They will also notify you of the incident, and can sometimes tell you the suspected source, or cause, of the attack.

Keep All Software Up to Date

All software should be updated regularly on your computer. Outdated versions of even the most benign software may no longer be supported by their maker, meaning they could be vulnerable to attack.

Don’t Open Unknown Attachments

While it may seem obvious, it’s easy to get duped by an official-sounding email. After reading, you open the included attachment and only later realize the email was not actually from the supposed sender.

If you don’t know with certainty who sent the email, then you have no way of knowing if the included attachments are safe to download. Hackers often send emails written in a way that will convince you to download their attachments, perhaps offering something for free or a special offer.

Once opened, the attachments may contain malware that will attach itself to your computer, putting the contents of your computer and your personal files at risk.

Only Access Secure Websites

A simple way to avoid unsafe websites is to not click on any sites that don’t have an https address. What is https and why is it different?

You’ll see either HTTP or HTTPS at the front of every website URL. The ‘s’ is an indicator that the site is secure, so your data is protected. Https websites are the safest to browse and download from.

Often, your browser will notify you if you are trying to access a website that isn’t secure. Don’t override this, as it could be risky.

Cover Your Webcam

Most laptops come with a built-in webcam, allowing you to use your computer for video calls or taking photos. If for any reason, your laptop is hacked, a hacker can then access your webcam to see what you’re doing or listen in via your microphone.

Even a simple piece of dark tape over your webcam can stop anyone from seeing in.

What Next for Your Secure Laptop?

There’s nothing more important than having a secure laptop, protecting both your personal data and your valuable technology. Incorporate the steps above to make sure your laptop is safe, protecting your privacy, data, and documents.

Did you find this article about computer safety helpful? If so, we’d be glad if you’d read some of our other great content.