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Computer security – Hardware

By Mark Rawcliffe features@algarveresident.com

This week we are talking about the security of your physical computer – the hardware – the bit you touch and feel. The bit thieves really want.

If you have paid attention, read the previous articles and acted on the advice, you will by now have secured a backup on an external device and/or on a cloud service.

The issue is, the hardware is replaceable – your files and photos are irreplaceable.

Make sure that your computer is covered under your contents insurance policy for either home or business. In the case of a laptop or portable device, ensure that your insurance covers the unit when not at home or in the office. Talk to your local insurer. Tell them what you need.

However, as always, common sense prevails. You would not put a sign on your wallet saying “money here please steal me!”; so don’t do it with your mobile or static computer units.

by Sérgio Fortuna – Microsoft support professional, with over 15 years’ experience in all types of computer systems. Algarve Computer Centre

Treat your computer, laptop or other device as any other valuable item especially when it contains all your data; the data is more valuable than the machine itself.

Restricting access to network servers should be a priority for small businesses. A server should be locked away allowing access to administrators only.

Desktops can be secured using locking lugs, which will prevent the removal of the hard drive. Laptops can be locked away in a safe or secure cupboard when not being used.

Mobile alarms are available for laptops. These work on proximity to the receiver which could be in your pocket, a drawer or by the front door and should the two become separated by more than a few metres an alarm will sound to warn you that your device is going ‘walkies’.

If a thief manages to get away with your laptop or your expensive smartphone, there’s software that lets you keep track of it.

‘Prey’ is free to download, at www.preyproject.com. It works by installing a small bit of software on your laptop or mobile phone, which will silently wait for a remote signal to wake up.

A signal is then sent from the internet or via SMS message allowing you or a legal body to gather information regarding the device’s location.

You can also trigger specific actions like turning on the camera so you can see the perpetrator’s face, or wipe the hard drive to prevent access to your private data. ‘Gadget Trak’ (www.gadgettrack.com) is another piece of third-party software which has received excellent reviews. It works on all platforms and the company will work with police to recover your device(s) giving the possibility of prosecution.

Securing your laptop, computers and mobile devices isn’t complicated and it isn’t expensive but it does take common sense.

by Russell Newton – Apple Certified Macintosh Technician, Apple Certified Support Professional, Apple Certified Technical Coordinator, Apple Product Professional. Newteq Solutions

Your Mac and its operating system come with some great built-in security features,in addition to optional third party applications and services,

Have you ever wondered what that little 7mm oval-shaped hole is on your Mac? It is to allow you to bolt your laptop or desktop to the wall or floor using a Kensington lock (www.kensington.com). Kensington locks make it almost impossible to remove a laptop or desktop Mac from where you secure it. Even if a thief used heavy duty cable cutters he would still not be able to easily remove the lock from the computer making it obvious that it is stolen property.

A ‘Login Password’ might prevent unwelcome users from snooping at your personal data, but it can be reset with the right know-how. A ‘Firmware Password’, on the other hand, cannot be bypassed, but a thief could still remove your hard disk to replace it with a new one for re-sale, to format it or to access your data from another computer. If, however you turn on ‘FileVault’, the whole situation changes. ‘FileVault’ actually encrypts the data on your hard disk making it impossible to access the data without the right password.

‘Find My Mac’ is a feature that is built into the Mac operating system and Apple’s iCloud service. Once activated, you can track your Mac’s location online. The moment the stolen Mac connects to a Wi-Fi network, iCloud will email you allowing to you trace it from another computer, iPad or iPhone using the ‘Find My iPhone’ app. You can remotely lock or wipe the data on your Mac, iPad or iPhone using this service.

In addition to taking advantage of all the inbuilt safety features, check with your insurer that your Mac is included in your household or company policy. If your computer cannot be retrieved you can at least get a brand new one and recover your data from your backup. That is if you have read and taken heed of our previous articles!