For several reasons, your computer should be locked when you are not in front of it. A personal computer is a pretty personal item. It has access to your e-mail, in your browser, you likely have cookies which let someone log in automatically to certain websites, etc. Your worst case scenario though is that you have a laptop, logged in, and you leave home. You come back to find your house has been buglarized. Is the theif technically competent enough to know the tremendous goldmine he/she has found with your unlocked laptop? You’ll never know – all you can do is hope.
As I’ve discussed on here many times, perhaps the most valuable thing you gave the thief was access to your e-mail. Why is that the most valuable thing? Well, a smart thief will immediately go to every bank and credit card website and click “Forgot my password” – and in a minute or so, will have several e-mails that he/she just needs to click, to reset your passwords. Then, you are locked out of your bank and credit card websites.
Let’s assume you buy into some of this. If you don’t always lock your workstation/laptop whenver you stand up (WindowsKey + L, on your keyboard) – it’s likely because you don’t want to have to type your password every time you come back. That is understandable. So – next time, get a laptop with a fingerprint reader!
For some unknown reason, in the year 2016 most laptops still don’t have backlit keyboards nor fingerprint readers. I think both of those should be standard on every laptop. Anyhow, what if your laptop doesn’t have a fingerprint reader? In my research, only a couple of consumer-grade laptops too (HP Envy’s and Lenovo Thinkpad’s, as far as I know). Well, you can buy a fingerprint reader that plugs into a USB port on the right or left, and it just sort of becomes part of your laptop. For example…
For a laptop – this is an Eikon mini fingerprint reader (Amazon: $24.95) – this works on a Macbook too. Linux support should be good.
For a desktop – this is an Eikon USB-wired fingerprint reader (Amazon: $34.95) – not sure about Mac support. Linux support should be good.
How does this work?
Well, in Windows 8 and later, using a fingerprint to log in comes standard with the operating system. Go into Settings –> Accounts and then on the left navigation, Sign-in Options:
Basically, you have to first set up a PIN. Don’t make this anything easy to guess as this will grant the same privilege as your password. I have no earthly idea why they make you create a less-secure mechanism (a PIN) first, before you can use a fingerprint, but that’s what they did.
Anyhow, after you create a PIN, then under the Windows Hello section, you can set up your fingerprints. You can register as many as you like. In modern day, pretty much any mainstream fingerprint reader is known by Windows without any software needing to be installed.
The added bonus here too is that you can use fingerprints to “Switch User” if you have a computer with multiple users. Sit down and swipe your finger, and your profile loads. The other person swipes their finger, your session is “locked”, and they are then logged in.
The idea here is what if you just had a habit of doing WindowsKey + L to lock your screen, every time you stood up. When I say WindowsKey, I mean this key on your keyboard:
Hold that key and hit the letter “L” to lock your screen.
Then, when you come back, you just swipe your registered finger and your desktop is back up again. For how cheap these things are and how easy it is to set up, why not take your computer security to the next level? It really couldn’t be any easier!