Many businesses and government installations require this, and it may be something you want to do at home.
It is especially important for devices that travel, like phones and laptops. Thousands of these devices are lost or stolen every day, and a password or PIN can prevent your information from falling into the wrong hands.
For devices at home, it’s all about who has physical access to the machine. Many people don’t want their kids seeing what is on their computer, or other people who might be in the house unsupervised. If it is just you living in your house by yourself and nobody else gets on the computer, maybe it’s not that big of a deal, but consider this: if a burglar steals your computer, and turns it on back at the hideout, will they be rewarded with a treasure trove of account numbers, logins and password information, or will they be thwarted by a password-protected login?
On a Windows 10 computer, click the Start button in the lower left corner. Next, click the gear-shaped “Settings” symbol, found above the Start button. Then, select Accounts, and from inside Accounts, select Sign-in options, and Password. On an Apple Mac, click the Apple symbol in the upper left corner, and select System Preferences. Next, visit Users and Groups.
Some people won’t need this sort of protection, but if you have sensitive, private things you wouldn’t want to share with the rest of the world, then give your computer a password. Do the same thing to your phones and tablet computers. It all depends on who has physical access to your computer. Do you have housecleaning people that come in and clean your house? Think about who can actually, physically touch your computer.
On iPhones and Android phones, go to Settings (the little gear symbol). On iPhones, look at FaceID and Passcode. Android phones, check Lockscreen and Security.
You may also want to protect your device using the screen saver, or screen time-out function. This also is required by many government installations and businesses, so that after a certain period of inactivity, such as if you go to lunch, the screensaver turns on, or, in the case of a phone, the screen turns off.
This is done so that you can tend to a certain activity, but you don’t have to close out your work or do a complete shutdown of your computer. You can simply pause things, but at the same time nobody can get into your device until they enter the password, PIN, or whatever verification method you choose.
On a Windows computer, (1) click the Windows start button in the lower left corner; (2) click the Windows “Settings” icon, located above the Start button; (3) select “Personalization;” (4) select “Lock screen;” (5) select “Screen saver settings.”
Next, put a check mark in the “On resume, display logon” box; (2) select the amount of time before the Screen saver turns on; (3) select your Screen saver style, or a photo, if you like; (4) click Apply, and that’s it.
On an Apple Mac, go look at desktop and Screen Saver inside system preferences. There you’ll find the option to give your screen saver a timeout and password.
Next week: encryption, the ultimate protection.
Dave Moore, CISSP, has been fixing computers in Oklahoma since 1984. Founder of the nonprofit Internet Safety Group Ltd, he also teaches Internet safety community training workshops. He can be reached at 919-9901 or internetsafetygroup.org.