Is Your Computer Security Good Enough?

computer-security-guide-cover-2nd-ed

4-Step Computer Security Upgrade

Learn to encrypt your files, secure your computer when using public Wi-Fi, enable two-factor authentication, and use good passwords.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/takomabibelot/2134214940/

Many attorneys are using cloud computing to make their practices mobile and easier to access from various locations. There are definite concerns about the security and privacy of files stored in the cloud. Those concerns, however, are secondary to whether you properly secure your work computer and encrypt your files.

Computer passwords

Any computer you use for work should have password protection. When you boot up, or try to wake up your computer, make sure you require a password. To change your security settings on a mac, simply go into system preferences>security>and check “require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver.”

You may also want to go into system preferences>energy saver. You can set your computer to sleep after short periods of inactivity. Lastly, consider setting up a “hot corner” which will automatically put the computer to sleep. This can be done under system preferences> desktop & screen saver>hot corners. Get in the habit of using the hot corners to put your computer to sleep (and therefore password protected) when you are away from it.

Encrypted files

On a mac, go into system preferences>security>FileVault and turn it on. This will take a long time, so I advise doing this in the evening when you leave work, or when you do not need your computer for a few hours. FileVault encrypts your entire home directory. Every time you boot up or shut down your computer, all of your files are encrypted and can only be viewed after entering the password.

FileVault will slow a computer down, and there are reports that it can still be hacked. This, of course, would require that someone steals the computer and has the capabilities to hack into it. FileVault is not the perfect encryption software, but it is free, and by most accounts, it is relatively secure. At a minimum, it adds another level of security to your files.

Subscribe

Get Lawyerist in Your Inbox, Daily

Current Articles
Current Lab Discussions
  • At a recent seminar, I asked for a show of hands of those who kept client files on a laptop, and then for those who encrypted their laptops. It was a tiny percentage that encrypted their files. It is so easy to encrypt that not doing it is getting close to gross negligence.

  • David

    Using my MacBook Pro, I looked into using the built-in FileVault encryption. As a student/home user, I found a few major downsides. Time Machine, which I use, will no longer function the same. It will only backup files when I’m logged out (I’m the only user; I don’t log out), and it will not let me browse the files, but rather will only work for a full system restore. Also, printer sharing will not work.

    For those using a Mac and looking for encryption without using FileVault, there is also an easy and built-in (read: free) way to encrypt certain files. Disk Utility allows you to create an encrypted read/write disk image (DMG) which you can mount with the password, use, then unmount. There are also programs for pay that do this, but it’s very easy through Disk Utility.

  • rif

    Here are some tips for securing your computer and/or network:

    Encryption and passwords are good for security however if your password is weak then you may have a false sense of security since they are vulnerable to brute force attacks. Use stronger passwords. Use letters, numbers, and special characters and try to avoid using dictionary words if possible. Make it as long as you can but not too long so you can remember it.

    OS updates: Many operating system updates specifically address security vulnerabilities. Check for updates once per week or twice per month.

    Education: Possibly the best tip of all. Becoming aware of common attacks used by malicious hackers which can cause serious damage to your computer data or your security. Most of this information available online. If you can identify threats and learn to be cautious and skeptical, you’ll be much safer online.

  • Daisy

    I agree that any computer for work should have password protection. In fact, in additon to computers, it is also necessary to password protect files on usb drives as usb drives are easily to be lost. For this, we can use professional usb encryption software, like truecrypt, wondershare usb drive encryption, and so on.

  • liot

    mmm….interesting, as for me I use ProteMac Logintrap (protemac.com) for identity theft protection…