Blog

15 August 2013

Don't leave your laptop unattended

If you use your computer in a public space or while remote working, make sure you never leave your laptop or tablet unattended.

Large numbers of people now work on their laptops in public places, but they could be putting their IT security at risk.

IT for business can be the ‘life-blood’ of a company, but it can easily be taken for granted. Entrepreneurs often end up working in all sorts of locations, either because they don’t have their own office space or they want to get things done while they are out and about.

But if you use your computer in public, or while remote working, you need to make sure you never leave your computer unattended in a public place.

Hidden dangers

Thieves may not steal your actual computer while you nip to the toilet or order another coffee, but they could access your passwords and use them to get hold of confidential information and hack your accounts at a later date.

When you think about your IT policies for your business, it is important that all staff understand the importance of protecting company data and their laptops while they are working away from their usual workplace.

Guardian journalist Tim Pilgrim set himself the challenge of seeing how many passwords he could get hold of in less than a minute. With only a small amount of knowledge, he found out 52 passwords in just 57 seconds.

If you use Google’s Chrome browser or Mozilla’s Firefox then it is simple for someone who briefly has access to your computer to see your passwords simply by opening the settings and looking at the saved passwords list. The thief can then log into your accounts on their own computer without you being any the wiser.

Protect your passwords

So what can you and your staff do to protect yourselves?

  • Check for yourself.  If you can easily find your stored passwords then others will be able to as well.
  • If you already have saved passwords, then delete them from Chrome. If you are using Mozilla Firefox, you can set a master password which will then need to be entered to access that information.
  • To be safe, don’t allow your internet browser to save your passwords. Entering them manually each time might seem like a hassle, but it will stop others being able to get into your accounts.
  • If you need to step away from where you are working, take your laptop or tablet with you.  Or if you must leave it, make sure you log out of your user account or set a password-protected screensaver. This may seem time-consuming when you are only leaving your computer for a couple of minutes, but it could save you a lot of problems later.
  • Don’t let other people access your user account when you are not with them. Even if it is friends, family or children, there is always the possibility that passwords could be changed or deleted by mistake, compromising your IT security.
  • If you need to use a system to store your passwords, choose one with a master password like LastPass or 1Password.
D2 Interactive