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While phones and tablets have become the go-to computing devices for many students, the laptop still has an important role to play. Any assignments requiring a lot of typing or working with complex documents such as slide decks or long PDFs, are usually better suited to the laptop’s unique capabilities. Many laptop models now even support touch/stylus input and are compatible with mobile app stores like Google Play, making them versatile tools in and out of the classroom.
An AV solution will regularly scan the laptop for infections that match entries in a blacklist of viruses, and quarantine them if it finds any.
However, security is a constant concern with most laptops. Compared to mobile devices, PCs and Macs have historically been much more frequently exploited by malware, viruses and other threats. That’s largely because they run older operating systems and applications that provide more opportunities for attack. With that in mind, let’s review what you should do to ensure that your student’s work is protected.
Encrypt the hard drive
What if a laptop were lost stolen? The data on it would likely be vulnerable to whoever found/took it, unless the disk had been encrypted beforehand. Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS both feature built-in tools for encrypting the full drive, while Google Chrome OS does this by default. Once encrypted, a drive can’t be read unless someone knows its decryption password, even if they physically remove it from the laptop.
Implement strong passwords
A log-in PIN or biometric credential (like a fingerprint) is a must-have to prevent unauthorized access to your child’s laptop. It’s important to take the additional step of making sure your student knows how to use a password manager, too. Modern laptop OSes generally include a utility for generating, storing and auto-filling passwords on websites and apps. These tools provide much better security than the common practice of reusing the same simple password across multiple domains.
Promptly update all software
A new software update becoming available for a laptop’s OS or one of its apps might seem like ho-hum event. It shouldn’t be taken lightly or ignored, though, as it might include important security fixes. Outdated software is a leading cause of security incidents, as attackers can take advantage of known exploits that haven’t been patched yet. Enable automatic updates so that critical patches are applied as soon as possible.
Outdated software is a leading cause of security incidents… Enable automatic updates so that critical patches are applied asap.
Install an antivirus solution
Antivirus (AV) software is an important piece in the security puzzle, even though it can’t fend off every type of threat out there. An AV solution will regularly scan the laptop for infections that match entries in a blacklist of viruses, and quarantine them if it finds any. Platforms like Ultimate Internet Security go even further by incorporating ransomware protection and anti-phishing defense so that there’s less overall risk of a successful cyberattack.
Perform regular backups
Speaking of ransomware, it’s one of the main reasons to adhere to a consistent backup strategy. A ransomware infection can effectively render a laptop useless by holding its important data hostage until a ransom is paid. Paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee safe return of the assets in question, either. Rolling back to a recent backup is the best way out. Viable backup options include cloud computing services and external hard drives.
Set up an easy-to-use VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) might seem like a complicated concept, but it’s actually pretty simple: It provides a secure connection over any IP network, such as the internet. That makes it perfect for avoiding harm while connected to an unfamiliar Wi-Fi network, like one offered in a coffee shop, airport or hotel. Some VPN clients are really easy to use once configured, requiring the user to simply press a button to toggle them on or off.
Together, these practices form a clear blueprint for safer laptop use. If you’re interested in learning more about how to stay safe online, take a look at our security blog or check out our security tip of the day. You can also browse our products list to compare different solutions for laptop security.