Security Recommendations: Physical Security

Welcome to the second part of our Security Recommendations series, where we focus on the physical world and the potential threats it poses.

Why should we care about physical security?

While following various security measures to protect your device from online threats is essential, most of those practices will be useless if an attacker gains physical access to your device.

What to do:

1. Use non-obvious passwords to unlock your device.

  • Unlike passwords for online accounts, this password can be shorter, memorable, and easy to write, but you should avoid passwords like “123456” or “password”.
  • If using biometric authentication, create a PIN with at least 6 characters.

2. Lock your computer whenever you leave the desk.

  • You can perform a quick lock using the keyboard shortcut “Windows key + L”.
  • Learn to automatically push the keys whenever you stand up to leave your desk to avoid unauthorized access.

3. Use disk encryption.

  • When the attacker has physical access to your device, he might access your data without knowing your password (e.g., via an operating system on a bootable USB).
  • Use disk encryption – e.g. BitLocker, that is included in all Windows Professional editions, to prevent such a situation.

4. Don’t leave your devices unattended in a car.

5. Avoid inserting unknown or untrusted USB sticks into your devices.

  • Unknown USB sticks might infect your computer.
  • Choose a secure online data exchange platform (e.g., cloud storage) and always scan downloaded files with your antivirus software.

6. Avoid transferring files to/from unencrypted external drives.

  • For sharing or transferring smaller files, use a secure cloud storage (e.g., Google Drive, Sharepoint).
  • For larger files, make sure you encrypt the device used for transfer, or create a password-protected ZIP/RAR file.

7. Be suspicious of any stranger attempting to gain access to your office.

  • Confront the stranger and ask what they are doing there.

8. Protect your device from being stolen.

  • Apart from not leaving your device unsupervised, you can take some additional security measures at your workplace, such as using laptop security solutions like a Kensington laptop lock to avoid your device from being physically moved.

9. Lock your personal locker after leaving the workplace.

  • There is a possibility that the valuables and physical device(s) in your locker could be stolen or damaged.
  • It is also possible for a malicious entity to insert illegal items into your locker if it is left open.

These activities were supported by the Pontis Foundation thanks to tax assignations from Aliter Technologies and MetLife.