How to Secure Your Chromebook

Chromebooks are Google’s lightweight laptop that run on Chrome OS. These machines are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with the majority of applications and documents living in the cloud.

When it comes to security, Google really has done their homework. Chromebooks by design are safe, durable and secure when compared to traditional operating systems. They require no antivirus because it is a locked-down OS which combats some of the user error that contributes to malware. They verify their boot process (which I will discuss later on).

In addition, Chromebooks offer sandboxing to keep tabs within the browser isolated from one another. Add this to Google’s extensive security practices and knowledge, and you have a device which has not only outsold Windows and Mac but has found a large market within education institutions.

There is an obvious need for a Google account in order to use a Chromebook fully. You can beef up the security of your digital life within the options once you’re logged in by choosing a strong password. This may seem fairly obvious, but even in 2018 people use “password#123” and the like. Add to this the option for two-factor authentication, and at least the core element of the Chromebook will be more secure.

With regards to boot, Chrome OS checks the system startup to ensure that the operating system has not been tampered with.

Every time the Chromebook starts up, it does a self check called Verified Boot. If it detects that the system has been tampered with, or corrupted in any way, typically it will repair itself without any effort, taking the Chromebook back to an operating system that’s as good as new.

Google

Like any system, such as Windows or Linux, installing available updates is critical to the overall health and security of your device and data. On a Chromebook available updates are automatic. You will be notified if they are ready to install, which makes keeping things up to date easy. Simply click the “Reboot” button when an update presents itself, and once the system is back online, you’ll have the latest patches.

chrome-update

You can periodically check for updates via “Settings -> Menu -> About Chrome.” Crucial updates that require a powerwash can be found here. Powerwash erases data from the device, installs updates and then takes users back to the day they brought the Chromebook. Normally, this would be tiresome for conventional devices; however, Chromebooks of course are intended to be all cloud-based, therefore users lose no data.

powerwash

Despite the criticism Google gets for its business model, they do adhere to and offer privacy practices. Within Chrome OS this is no different. Under “Settings -> Advanced -> Privacy and Security,” you can find options such as Safe Browsing and Help Improve Safe Browsing. While Chromebooks have built-in security by design, it doesn’t hurt to have extra vigilance. You can find the same settings within the Chrome browser.

Just as with Android phones and tablets, users of Chromebooks can enable the “Find my device” option. As the name implies, should your Chromebook be stolen, mislaid or lost, you can log in to your Google account on another device and search for it.

This option should be enabled by default. Take a look within “Settings -> Google Play Store -> Manage Android Preferences -> Google -> Security -> Find My Device.”

Guest mode is another way of using a Chromebook and means that instead of supplying a username and password, you click Guest and browse. It gives a clean slate, no apps, no history. Guests can’t add bookmarks, nor can they install apps. An added bonus of this mode means that Chrome OS will erase all traces of use. Think of it as an enhanced Incognito Mode.

With all of these elements taken into account, what do you think of Chrome OS. Will you be securing your Chromebook, and if not, why not? Let us know in the comments section below.

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