Harden the Security of Your Chromebook with These Simple Tips

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The vast majority of people in the UK are still working from home due to coronavirus. With cybercriminals increasingly targeting remote workers, it’s imperative to ensure that you have a secure WFH set up, including a laptop. The problem is that regular PCs, i.e. Windows and macOS don’t have a lot of security out of the box. It’s your job as the owner to add security to the device. 

Google’s Chrome OS-powered laptops, Chromebooks, are the exception. Security is baked right into their design. Chromebooks are good at protecting sensitive data and make excellent business laptops, especially when working from home. Chrome OS is often regarded as the most secure OS, and for a good reason. But what exactly makes Chromebooks more secure than, say, Windows or macOS laptops? 

Built-In Malware Protection

Viruses can infect your device and give hackers a backdoor to your system, compromising sensitive data. Viruses infect your system by injecting malicious code into an executable (.exe) file. Chrome OS is incapable of running .exe files, making Chromebooks immune to viruses and many other types of malware. 

Verified Boot

Chromebooks use a process known as Verified Boot to check their own integrity as soon as they turn on. During this process, the device will check for malware or any other suspicious behaviour in various system components. If a threat is detected, the entire boot-up process is cancelled, and the device switches to recovery mode.

Sandboxing

Chromebooks use sandboxing to counter the threats of malicious software further. The crux of the sandbox concept is that it confines apps and web pages in their own isolated environment. If there’s a threat lurking in a particular website, it will be restricted in that sandbox. The threat can’t spread to other parts of the system and will fritter away as soon as the tab is closed. 

Risks Facing Chromebook Users

All the security features baked into the Chrome OS make Chromebooks the most secure laptops available. However, Chromebooks are still vulnerable to a wide range of cybersecurity threats out there. If they are not careful, Chromebook users can easily fall victim to data breaches, phishing attacks, and Wi-Fi attacks. 

Tips To Protect Your Chromebook 

The current cyber threat landscape calls for vigilance, even when using the most secure device available. Even with all the built-in security features, Chromebook security can still be improved upon. Here are some steps you can take to enhance your Chromebook’s security further as you work from home. 

Enable Sleep Locking

You can increase the security of your Chromebook by enabling sleep locking. Go to Settings > People > Screen Lock and enable Show Lock Screen When Waking From Sleep. That way, when you close the Chromebook lid and then reopen it shortly, the screen will lock automatically and require a password. 

Install a VPN 

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are commonly used to bypass internet censorship and content restrictions, but you can also use a VPN as a security tool. Ensure you are connected to a VPN when using your Chromebook to surf the net via a public Wi-Fi connection. 

Use Strong Passwords

Data stored in your Chromebook is protected with file-system-level encryption. However, encryption will not protect your data if the attacker guesses or somehow gets hold of your password. Use strong passwords to protect your data. A strong password is at least eight characters long and incorporates lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. 

Disable Developer Mode

Ensure that the developer is disabled on your Chromebook at all times unless you really know what you are doing. Enabling developer mode makes Chrome OS vulnerable, potentially allowing hackers to bypass built-in protections and make changes to your system. 

Don’t Install Apps from Third-Party Sources

There are many third-party app stores on the internet offering free versions of apps you’d have to pay for on Google Play. Steer clear of third-party app stores and free versions of paid apps for security reasons. These apps will only steal your data and compromise your online accounts. 

The Chromebook is arguably the most secure laptop there is. Chrome OS comes with robust security out of the box. However, Chromebook security can be hardened even further. You can improve the safety of your Chromebook significantly by implementing the above tips.