Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to get your money and info, and your phone has one vulnerability you’ve probably never considered. Stop making this simple and dangerous mistake.
Even your printer could serve as a way in for hackers. Here are the security steps you probably didn’t know you should take.
Stepping away from your computer creates an opportunity for hackers, crooks, or simply nosy people with nothing better to do than snoop. Here’s how to prevent them from getting a look at what you’re doing.
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Protect your Windows PC
You probably lock your phone when you put it in your pocket without thinking about it, but what about your computer? The same principle applies – always lock your device.
Even if you trust the people around you, it doesn’t take more than a passing glance for someone to cause some serious damage. That’s especially true if you work from home and have sensitive business info on your computer.
Here are some ways to lock your Windows PC:
• Hits Windows + L to lock your computer in just one step.
• Presses Ctrl + Alt + Delthen select the lock option.
• Click the Start button, then select your user icon and hit lock.
TECH HACKS: Sending and receiving texts on your computer is a total time saver. Here’s how to set it up.
Make it easier on yourself and set your computer to lock automatically after a set amount of inactivity. On a Windows machine:
• Opens Settings and go to Personalizationthen select Lock Screen.
• Clicks Screen saver settings and select any option (except None) from the Screen saver dropdown menu.
• Set a time for Windows to wait before locking. A few minutes should be fine.
• Check the box for On resume, display logon screen then hits OK.
You can also set your PC to lock automatically when you step away from it. Windows uses devices paired with your PC via Bluetooth to help detect when you’re away. Pretty neat.
First, you need to pair your device. Your phone is a good choice since you will likely take it when you get up. Find instructions for pairing any device to Windows 10 here and Windows 11 here.
With your phone paired to your computer, here’s how to set your computer to lock when it senses your phone has moved away:
• Select Start > Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options.
• Select Dynamic lockthen select the Allow Windows to automatically lock your device when you’re away check box.
• Take your phone with you when you move away from your PC, and it will automatically lock a minute or so after you’re out of Bluetooth range. Note that the Bluetooth range may vary. Do a test run to find the distance where your computer locks.
There’s a lot built into your computer’s settings to keep you safe – if you know where to look. Here are some essentials for Windows PCs and Macs.
Lock down your Mac
Use a Mac? Here are some of the different ways to lock your screen.
•Choose apple menus > Lock Screen.
• Press Touch ID if it’s available on your Mac or Magic Keyboard.
• Press the Lock Screen button if it’s available on your Magic Keyboard.
• Use hot cornerswhich let you take action when moving your mouse pointer to the corner of the screen:
•Choose apple menus > System Settingsthen click Desktops & Docks.
• Clicks Hot Corners and click the pop-up menu for any corner and choose Lock Screen.
• Clicks done. When you move your pointer to that corner, your screen will lock.
Apple smarts: Use this advanced search trick to find anything on your Mac.
To set your computer to lock after a set amount of inactivity automatically:
•Choose apple menus > System Preferences.
• Clicks Desktop & Screen Save > Screen Savers.
• Use the slider to choose a time.
• Clicks Show All to go back to the main System Preferences window.
• Clicks securitythen click Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver.
• Close the System Preferences window.
Here’s how to set your Mac to log out when not in use:
•Choose apple menus > System Settings.
• Clicks Privacy & Security > advanced.
• Turn on Log out automatically after inactivity.
• Click the Log out after pop-up menu, then choose the time before you’re automatically logged out.
What about laptops?
Your laptop may automatically lock when you close the lid, but you should get into the habit of locking it first. You may not push the lid all the way down, and locking your computer every time you step away is good practice, so make it a habit.
You don’t leave your phone unattended, right? Anyone walking by could slip it into their pocket. I know this is obvious, but even a locked phone is still a liability to your privacy and security.
The same goes for laptops and tablets. If you’re at a coffee shop, it’s not the same as at work. Don’t leave them unattended! Packing up your computer to run to the bathroom might be annoying, but it’s worth it.
The same applies to flash drives. You can encrypt them, but the temptation for a crook to take yours or you lose it is too great.
Keep your tech-know going
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Here’s how to lock your PC or Mac to keep snoops at bay