Why is it important and what steps can be taken to secure your devices?

We are regularly reminded to take steps to protect our personal and company data from malware, ransomware, hacking and other online cyber security threats, be it installing anti-virus products, using password protection and only accessing trusted sites and networks.  However, it is just as important, if not more important, to also protect the physical security of our computer devices.

If an attacker can gain physical access to your device, it is much easier for them to gain access to the data contained on the device with limited technical knowledge and without having to use brute force techniques.  Having access to the physical device may also allow an attacker to load malicious applications directly on to the device such as keyloggers.

Even if computer assets are safely stored and protected when not in use, social engineering techniques are often used to trick or distract users, so it is also important to take physical security measures when the asset is in your possession and in use, especially in a public place such as a train or coffee shop.

If a device is stolen there are still ways to prevent an attacker from accessing your device and data.  Devices should be encrypted and ideally use a power on pin code or dongle to add a further layer of protection.  Remote wiping software can also be installed to remove data before an attacker has a chance to gain access to it.  These security measures are great to prevent data being obtained and used, however it is still a big inconvenience and cost to lose any device and therefore it is still important to take steps to prevent the device being taken in the first place.

Ideally you should never leave your device unattended unless it is off and securely locked away.  If this is unavoidable, devices should be screen locked with a secure password when left powered on and secured with a physical locking cable to prevent it being taken.

When using your device in public areas, beware of prying eyes and use a privacy screen to prevent people around you obtaining information on your screen.

Even when using your devices in the relative security of your workplace it is important to still be security conscious of others around you.  Attackers can sometimes masquerade as normal visitors, therefore all visitors should be escorted when on the premises and staff encouraged to challenge them when needed.