As brain-deep as cybersecurity is, you don’t have to leave it to computer gurus. There’s a lot you can do to guard your digital properties at home and work. These physical hacks will get you started.
Turn from the Window
Are your screen and keyboard facing a window? Then peeping Toms can easily read, photograph, or video the passwords, account numbers, or love emails you type in.
- The asterisks that appear in place of your password won’t protect you. Anybody who sees your keyboard can figure out what you’re entering.
- You’re not safe even if you’re in a 5th-floor office with no other buildings directly around you. If there’s a structure within viewing distance, somebody could be using a smartphone zoom or binoculars to spy on your screen.
Thwart any snoops by turning your screen and keyboard toward a wall. If you can’t do that, then shut the curtains or put up a divider in front of the window to block the outside view.
Lock Up the Surplus
What do you do with that old smartphone, laptop, or tablet? It’s easy and convenient to just throw the gadget in an unlocked drawer, put it on a high shelf, or leave it in an unused corner of your desk.
This works fine if you’re at home because you’ll hopefully know who’s running around your spaces. But don’t try this at work or any place where the public wanders around. It takes microseconds for someone to grab the gear, spirit it away, and check out any data you’ve left on it.
Ideally, you’d wipe any devices clean of any data before trashing them. But if you want to keep them around for sentimental reasons, put them in locked containers and drawers.
Keep a Video Eye Out
Here’s another hack that’s mostly for the office but can also work for your home setup. Install a big and showy camera that keeps a video eye out for your computer.
- Make sure that everybody who enters your area knows the device is there by installing signs that announce what it’s doing. The warning may be enough to deter evil-doers. But if anyone is stupid enough to either hack a device or steal it, you’ll have a record you can use to trace the rascal.
- While you’re at it stash a second camera in a hidden location. If somebody blocks the view of the obvious camera, you still have the second one to video the culprit.
Deny Dumpster Divers
Everybody rummages through trashcans and dumpsters nowadays: the down and out searching for recyclables to sell, bargain hunters looking for usable gear they can sell, and thieves hunting for a way into your life. They’re interested in the account numbers, money transactions, and personal info that appears on paper bills and printouts. They can then use this info to try to hack into your credit cards, online banking, and web stores to steal what they can get.
Buy yourself a shredding machine that’s easy to use. Then feed any paper into it that contains any personal information, whether you’ve received the document in the mail or print it from your computer. Even if someone takes the shredded material, they won’t be able to make heads or tails of it.