Keeping Your Computer Secure on the Go

In the volatile digital world that we live in today, computer security is not only a convenience, it is a necessity. Wireless networks have made Internet connection much less restricting, but in turn, they have opened computers up to new potential threats. A wireless network set up in your home has the advantage of being able to enable security features.

When you are on the go, a growing number of places like airports, restaurants and hotels offer free wireless Internet access. As useful as the free wireless Internet access is, there is one downside that can come back to bite you. The free wireless Internet access offered by these locations is offered over unsecured networks. These unsecured networks leave your computer vulnerable to attack.

Other than wireless security, one of the other concerns is preventing unauthorized access to your computer when it is left unattended. Unless you are one of those people who carry their laptops everywhere, you are probably going to have times where you leave your laptop at your hotel room. If some housekeeper decides to surf the net or check their e-mail on your laptop while you are out, your computer can be put at risk. If your computer is stolen, the sensitive data on the hard drive can be compromised.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your computer is secure when you are on the go.

1. Install a firewall.
Firewalls are your first line of defense when it comes to the Internet. They act like a shield to protect you from the ever-growing number of viruses and malware that circulate the information superhighway. A firewall can protect your computer from outside attack wherever you go.

2. Disconnect your laptop from the wireless network when it is not in use.
Whether you use a wireless network adapter or you have a wireless receiver built into your laptop, you can protect your computer from outside attacks by either disconnecting it from the computer or shutting it off.

3. Password protect your computer and files.
Installing a firewall and disconnecting from wireless networks can protect your computer from outside attack, but if you are concerned with the possibility of someone directly accessing your computer, strong passwords can keep prying eyes from accessing your files. The strongest passwords contain letters in upper and lower case, numbers and symbols. Try to avoid the simple passwords like “Password” and “YourName01”.

4. Encrypt your sensitive data.
Passwords can protect your sensitive data to a degree, but they have their own problems and limitations. Passwords can be hacked, forgotten, or lost, which means that they are only as secure as you choose to make them. If you really want to keep your files safe, you can use an encryption program. Encryption programs are available, both free and commercial, that can encrypt your files using 256-bit AES encryption. You can further protect your information by storing your encrypted files on a USB flash drive and keeping them with you.
5. Lock up your computer when it is not in use.
Shutting your computer down and storing it in a lockable laptop bag or case can keep people from even touching your computer, let alone access the data stored within them.

Following just a few of these tips can help you to keep your computer and the information you keep on it safe when you travel.

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