Horse Sense #110

Five Cheap and Easy Security Tips

I often joke that computer security is something everybody wants and says they need, but will not pay for or do. Prove me wrong. Try one of these tips and tell me if you think it was worth it!--Tony


Here are some security tips you probably have not seen before that will cost you little to no money:

(1) Buy in an ugly/glaring color, especially with smaller items like ear buds and cell phones. These items are easily lost or stolen. They are easily overlooked in rooms and cars. If they are in black, white, or brown, your chances of seeing them amongst a lot of other items, on a similar background, in the hands of a thief, or in the dark, are small. Fluorescent green or orange items are likely less desirable to thieves and easier to find if you have misplaced them.

(2) Label your stuff. Many PCs have a place to insert a business card. So do carry bags. Use them. If the device does not have a place for your business card, like a cell phone, slip a card underneath its protective cover or tape it to back of the item. Clear packing tape works well for taping business cards to things. Do NOT block any air holes or put your card somewhere where the heat will be very high. Luggage tags work well on computer bags. For small items like chargers, an address label might work to label the device. Put a picture of yourself on the login screen or use a business card with a picture on it on the machine so you do not have to prove you are you with a picture ID to get the device back from lost and found. Use ICE (In Case of Emergency) information applets to label your phone as yours and so emergency personnel can help you if you get hurt. Put an "If Found" text item on your computer desktop that someone can click and get your information so a lost machine can be returned [of course, they would need to get past your security to get there first, right?].

(3) Make your generic stuff stand out. Most portable PCs have practically nothing on the lid. You can put something there like a picture (maybe of your own face saying "This Computer belongs to Bill!)." Decorate your machine or carry bag with your own artwork or just your name with indelible markers so everyone knows it is yours. Put reflective colored tape or stickers on PCs, phones, or bags to make them easy to identify. Tape can also make your device less slippery. You can also write information on the tape, like your name and address. Reflective tape could also enhance your safety after dark.

(4) Turn your phone, PC, or router off. Not only will you save you lots of energy, but a machine that is off will not be attacked. A machine that is off charges faster and will have more energy available for when you need to do real work (not just have it sit there). Are you really going to answer your cell phone at 3 AM? Turning your equipment off can increase its life. Powering down and then back up creates a new, clean, faster running and less error prone environment.

(5) Keep drinks, food, dust, and water away from your equipment. I know you will eat in front of your PC, phone, and tablet. Put the food as far away as you can and do not lean over the PC and you will have less chance of getting food and drink on it. Try putting your soft drink on a table off your desk. You will be less likely to get it into your PC that way and condensation will not pool near your PC either. You will also have to pay more attention when you go to get your food. Humans think they can multitask well, but they cannot. Forcing yourself to shift your attention away from your electronics will keep them and you safer. One of the more recent enhancements in computing is making "standard" equipment more resistant to damage. Some modern phones can fall from 6 feet onto a hard floor and be OK. They can also survive under 6 feet of water. More rugged designs may have a higher initial cost, but corporate studies show that more rugged designs actually save money over the long run. PCs, phones, and tablets are gradually gaining reliability through the use of rugged design elements.

©2014 Tony tirk, Iron Horse