Saturday, July 31, 2021

Top Tips to use Your Chromebook in a Safe and Efficient Way

A Chromebook is a device – laptop or tablet, that runs on the Chrome Operating System (OS). Unlike many other Personal Computers, the Chromebook runs on much less hardware, consuming less power and is relatively cheaper.

Most of its operations are done on the Google Chrome Browser, and based on its storage architecture, the majority of the users’ information are expected to be stored in the cloud. This protects the user information if the device ever gets misplaced or stolen.

Unlike other personal devices, the Chromebook stores your data directly on the cloud and encrypts it, ensuring that no other person has access to the files unless given the password to your Google account.

History and Current Progress

The first set of Chromebooks were launched in mid-2011 as a result of a partnership between Samsung Electronics and Acer.

The desktop version was not released until the following year, and upon release, was named the Chromebox. More feats were accomplished in device production by other establishments as LG Electronics, in 2014, released a computer that fit the entire system unit into the display monitor, calling it the Chromebase.

Within 3 years of its launch, the Chromebook had garnered over 2 million sales across America. Currently, statistics show that the Chromebook represents over 50% of American school’s devices to aid students in research and assignment. It is also worthy of note that many of its devices can run both Linux apps and Android apps.

Despite being famous for its security features – especially the anti-hack feature, Chromebooks are still susceptible to some dangers, just like any other device. Some of these dangers include:

Risks faced by Chromebook users

  • Fake Apps – given that some Chromebook devices have access to run both Linux and Android apps in emulation, users are exposed to the risk of fake applications that could damage their system. 

Most people do not read the privacy policies of many apps before granting permissions. These apps simply inject malware into several processes of the device, in a bid to corrupt other apps and damage or steal information. 

Since most user information is stored on the cloud rather than the device, the damage that can be caused is quite limited.

  • Phishing – Report from X-Force Threat Intelligence Index shows that this is the most common form of attack used by cybercriminals today. It usually comes under the guise of a legitimate email or ad link and is intended to obtain sensitive or private information. 

Such links are usually found on compromised websites that require the user to enable ads. There are several forms – catphishing, clone phishing, spear phishing, etc., but they are all targeted at getting information through devious means.

  • Slow Speed – Chromebook devices weren’t designed for heavy-duty processes, that is why the RAM and processor speed are usually small in comparison to other personal devices that use Windows and MacOS. 

When the space on the device starts to get small, the device begins to operate at frustratingly low speeds. This is a problem that has been reported by several users worldwide in the hope that the performance features can be upgraded.

If you are a Chromebook user and you have encountered at least one of these problems, here are some tips on how you can resolve them and protect your device from future problems.

How users can protect their devices

  • Reduce Extensions – A report published in the Washington Post by an independent researcher gives an estimate of over 4 million people who have fallen victim to browser extensions that harvested user data. 

While extensions are there to ensure you have a good browsing experience, be cautious of extensions from unknown companies as many of them could be compromised and may be using your device to mine cryptocurrencies and stealing your data in the process.

  • Updated OS – Huge companies like Google are constantly under attack from cyber-criminals. These unscrupulous people constantly try to breach the OS’s security, forcing the establishment to bolster its security. 

Solutions to these breaches are usually added to updates released by the company for the users. Updating your device allows you to have that extra layer of protection, thereby securing you and your information.

  • Enable Sleep Locking – once you shut the lid of your device, or you manually set it to sleep because you have other things to attend to, set the device to lock so that others cannot view your work in your absence. 

To do this, simply open settings, go to the “People” option, and select screen lock.

  • Strong Security – while setting up a Google account, ensuring maximum security is very vital. Setting a strong password that is known only to you is the first step to protecting your information. 

You can even go further to enable a Two-Factor Authentication process that would require an external application like Google Authenticator to enable you to have access to your account. 

It is also crucial to ensure that you use separate passwords for both levels of authentication to allow you to remain secure if one password gets breached. 

An added measure of security is to deactivate devices that you no longer use from gaining access to your account, or even to restrict third-party access.

  • VPNs – To further protect your Chromebook, downloading a VPN is advised as it encrypts traffic passing through your laptop, and prevents other parties from snooping on your information. 
  • Avoid Third-Party Stores – if you require the use of a specific app on your device, it is recommended to download strictly from the store available on the Chromebook. Other third-party stores, although cheaper, are easily compromised with poor applications, and could have tons of malware.
  • Hard reset – if your device is running slower than usual, or you are of the suspicion that the hardware has been compromised by an application, restoring factory settings immediately takes care of the problem and restores your device to optimal performance.

Conclusion

Chromebooks have become increasingly popular, with reports from Statistica showing 20 million devices released for sale in 2020 following a successful 2019 sales outlook. If you happen to have a Chromebook, the above tips should help you enjoy using your device.

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