Personal Computer

You may also have a personal computer that you use for activities like online banking, shopping, and other personal activities. The list of recommendations for maintaining your personal computer are similar to those for your mobile device but expanded. They are: 

  • Keep it updated at all times. Don’t delay updates.

  • Choose a strong password to login and ensure your computer locks immediately upon being put into sleep mode or physically shut. This can be configured in the settings.

  • Enable Full Disk Encryption. This is called File Vault on MacOS, LUKS on Linux and BitLocker on Windows Professional Edition computers. If you have a Windows Home Edition, try VeraCrypt.

  • Turn on the built-in Firewall.

  • Use antivirus features that are built into your operating system (e.g., Windows Defender) and keep them updated. We haven’t seen convincing evidence to think that third-party antivirus products provide significant advantages.

  • Use a Chrome or Firefox for browsing and keep it up to date.

  • Install an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and browser privacy extension like Privacy Badger.

  • Install and use a password manager that can securely sync across your personal devices, for both mobile and desktop use, such as Bitwarden, Dashlane, Lastpass or 1Password. Use a very strong and unique master password, along with 2FA. Advanced users should instead consider a password manager that only stores your passwords locally, like KeePassXC.  

  • Use search engines like DuckDuckGo to limit the tracking of what you are doing.

  • Consider switching your personal email to a privacy-focused service, such as Protonmail.

  • Subscribe to a personal VPN service such as PIA and enable an encrypted tunnel from your personal computer, past your ISP and then out at random or configurable locations on the internet.

  • Use a secure messenger app such as Signal to communicate with friends, family members, and industry colleagues.

  • Add a physical layer of security by getting a Privacy Screen, camera cover and laptop lock that is compatible with your personal computer. Depending on your screen size, Privacy Screens will run your about $50-$100 dollars, a camera cover will be < $10 and a laptop lock will cost about $20. These are important if you are one who likes to change locations frequently and work from semi-public places.

(This guide is part of a series on Personal Security.)