Bond-level security on HP PCs (and Tips!)

c03316829.jpgWhen I think of James Bond, it’s all about crazy spy gadgets, watches that shoot lasers – that kind of stuff. But I noticed something in the more recent movies: Instead of rocking cockamamie tech, Q branch relies more on apps. Bond’s tools in the field now include tablets, computers….you know, things that HP innovates with every day. That got me thinking about the new HP EliteBook Folio Ultrabook. Here, you have a slender work PC that’s built with Bond-level security. So, in honor of Skyfall hitting theaters this week, we’re taking a look at some of the security measures baked into HP PCs and a couple security tips that you can use as well.

 

First, here are a couple real-world scenarios that actually happen to computer users (and how HP tech helps ‘em)

 

Let your fingers do the talking
When you buy an HP EliteBook Folio, make sure it comes equipped with the optional Fingerprint Reader Sensor. When you want to login, you just swipe your finger. HP’s Fingerprint Reader is from the leader in Natural ID, Validity Inc, so you can trust it being secure, fast, and reliable. Better yet, you will never forget your finger or leave it behind in your car. 

 

Encrypt sensitive data.

An HR executive keeps sensitive personnel data on her notebook. She travels often and worries

about losing her notebook and compromising the security of the information contained on her hard drive. Drive Encryption for HP ProtectTools has her back. It encrypts the hard drive, making data unreadable without the encryption key—even if a computer-savvy thief gets hold of her hard drive and inserts it into another computer.

 

Keep track of passwords.

A sales manager struggles with managing passwords. He relies on a list of login IDs and passwords taped to his PC. He knows this is risky, but he worries about forgetting passwords to important sites. HP Password Manager remembers the access information and automatically signs into protected websites and applications once a user’s identity has been confirmed. How do we keep that Identity secure? Fair question: Credential Managermaintains all the credentials in one place—Windows password, fingerprints, smart cards, contactless smart cards, and facial recognition to name a few. Meanwhile, the Privacy Managerenables the use of credentials to verify the source, integrity, and security of documents and emails received from other users. It also allows documents and emails to be encrypted so that only intended parties from a Trusted Contact List can read them. (Privacy Manager is on Win7 only.)

 

 

Wipe data from a hard drive.

An engineer working on a highly confidential project is issued a new PC. After moving her data to the new computer, she worries that a follow-on user of her old computer could gain access to data that still resides on the hard drive. Using HP Secure Erase, the engineer is able to completely wipe the drive. HP Secure Erase removes all traces of data stored on standard hard drives or solid state drives (SSDs). I also like the HP File Sanitizer. It allows you to securely “shred” files and web history from your hard drive, so deleted data cannot be recovered by the operating system or third party file recovery software. What can I say? I’m thorough.

 

Battle BIOS attacks.

A financial services professional recently became aware of new virus attacks and other security threats that target the firmware in computers. Some of these threats can take control of a computer and compromise all the data within it. HP BIOS Protection is designed to detect firmware corruption and attacks and alert the user to unauthorized changes. Better still, when using the HP Business Notebook Premier Image, productivity is not lost since the BIOS will be automatically recovered.

 

Protect your data from walking off.

Virtually all of us have walked away from our PC without logging out, for what was planned to be just for a minute, but ended up being away for way longer than intended. During that time anyone could walk up to the PC, plug in a USB storage card, and copy sensitive and critical information off of your computer. Device Access Manager’s Just in Time Authentication feature helps prevent this from happening by requiring users to authenticate who they are when the USB storage device is plugged into the PC.

 

Stem password-reset calls.

A help-desk specialist used to spend a substantial amount of his time assisting users with password resets. That changed when his organization implemented HP SpareKey on the HP Business Desktops and Notebooks used by the company’s workforce. Now users who are having password problems can gain access to their systems by answering three simple questions.

 

Also onboard:

 

Computrace Persistence is embedded in the BIOS so that if the optional service is activated. It“Tags” a stolen computer and remains active if the hard drive is reformatted or replaced. You can trace and manage your computer and remotely lock the device and wipe the data.

 

Embedded Security enables you to activate the trusted platform module (TPM) embedded security chip and provides extra software that helps enable protections against unauthorized access to your sensitive data and credentials. (This is a win7-only feature)

 

 

Now for some security tips:

  • A word about passwords. The best advice I’ve seen lately is to have a rotation of passwords that have a theme that makes sense to you and don’t use the same one on more than one account. Have it be MULTIPLE words (and symbols/numbers don’t hurt). More important, intentionally misspell words in your password. That’s right, I have broken English passwords. It’s like torture to a writer and I do it every time I log in. Also, change your passwords often. Just bear in mind that changing them often isn’t nearly as important as them being unique on every account and using a strong, hard-to-guess password.
  • Get the picture in Windows 8. There’s a neat feature within Windows 8 that lets you use a combination of a picture and on-screen touch as you password. (Suddenly we’re getting very Johnny Mnemonic.) The picture is essentially a hint to how / where you input the touch-password. So, for example, if you have a picture of a kitten yawning, that’s your queue to draw a circle around its mouth.  My advice on this one: Don’t make it obvious. So, in that kitten example, maybe just draw a litter box underneath him. Whatever.  Just a suggestion. BUT, a bigger point here is that while this is a neat feature in Windows 8, all someone needs to do is see you do it once and – blammo – they’ve got access to your machine. So feel free to give it a shot, but use a LOT of discretion, OK?
  • Just because it’s free WiFi, doesn’t mean it’s safe. Years ago, a security expert went with me to a coffee shop to prove something. Inside of five minutes, he logs in and through the router, backs his way into someone else’s computer. Call me paranoid, but I tether my cell phone to my laptops when I need to jump online in public. One coffee shop attack is running a program that will get login credentials from the other users on that network if the website doesn’t have SSL.  One great tip is never login to a website that isn’t SSL (the lock appears on your browser by the URL) when you are on a public hotspot.
  • ALWAYS have a firewall up. I can’t stress this enough – don’t surf without a net. Even if it’s just Windows firewall, you need to have one last line of defense up between your PC and the net.
  • UPDATE YOUR BROWSER! Maybe you’re lazy, maybe you’re stubborn. Or maybe you just keep forgetting. I’m willing to bet your browser is the most-often app used on your PC. New hacks and vulnerabilities are discovered all the time and the second you stop updating, you’re just asking for trouble.
  • Back up important data – both offline in a secure location and in the cloud! (I wrote a big ol’ story about that here).
  • Have a contingency plan. It may sound crazy, but what happens if you’re zapped while you’re on the road? Have backup data plans so that your significant other (or trusted co-workers / friends) know what to do in case of a data disaster.

 

You know, if you have any questions about security measures – or tips of your own to add – give us a shout in the comments below.

 

Comments
by Lolita520
on ‎11-16-2012 12:49 AM

It 's really a good article! I like it very much and I use Ainorsoft Windows Password Recovery to recover my hp password.

by mushtashe
on ‎02-26-2016 09:09 PM

It is a good article, but does not reflect to my problem. I own 3 websites I have been working for years on Compac pc's. They all worked great until a few days ago I made the mistake of buying a HP with Windows 10. Now on my HP I can sign in and work only one of my sites. The other two sites were  also great for about 2 days. Now I can't sign in. I can't even open my sites thru my Site Server Manager.  This HP constantly comes up with the page "Hmmm, this site can not be found". What should I do?  Go back to Compac? I need a reliable pc. My sites are my income.

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