First off, you should do all the essential things to secure your laptop, like configuring BIOS settings so that no one can boot it up without a password. Make sure *full disk encryption* is enabled on your device for extra security if you can do so. If not, that’s okay! You can encrypt files individually to protect them. If you use Google Drive, Dropbox, etc., encrypt your files with a strong password or enable 2-factor authentication and set up an application-specific password for that service to use just in case one gets hacked somehow.
Now there are many ways you can download the files needed to decrypt your encrypted files if they get into the wrong hands. This can be done through popular cloud services or with free software that you don’t have to store files on a server to use the decrypting program.
- If using Google Drive, Dropbox, etc., encrypt your file before sending it to these services to avoid losing access to it in case your password is compromised. There are free program you can use to do this easily .Read more from eduloh.com, the other one requires a fee called [Cryptomator].
- Use an application such as [SpiderOak] which allows you to encrypt files before uploading them and decrypt when downloading them through their servers or through your server that you set up. Set up your server through [Arduino], [Raspberry Pi], or even by using an old computer you have sitting around the house, just make sure it’s not connected to the internet when doing this to avoid any security risks.
- Don’t download files from a file-sharing service through your college internet connection. If you need to download something, do it on a friend’s computer if they have one or use an anonymous web browser such as the Tor network which allows you to connect through many servers to mask your IP address and location.
- Purchase a laptop from someone so that no one can log into the laptop without a password that you set. If purchasing a laptop off Craigslist, make sure the owner deletes all data on it before sending or receiving it to you so that no one can decrypt your files if they get into the wrong hands.
- Purchase an external hard drive and encrypt all of your important documents with TrueCrypt, another free program. To access these documents, connect the drive to the computer and enter the password you set on it.
- If you are very concerned about security or feel that your laptop may be stolen before you can secure it properly, consider purchasing a [laptop lock] that attaches through USB ports. This way if someone attempts to steal your laptop they won’t be able to detach the laptop lock and take your computer with it.
- If you do not want to use an external hard drive or separate your files because you are very concerned about space, consider setting up a [Ransomware virus] so that if someone attempts to decrypt your files without paying for them, all of your files will be automatically deleted. This way you never have to worry about decrypting them yourself and can receive them as soon as someone pays the fee to unlock the computer for access.