Physical and Hardware Security


Chidinma is travelling for a three day conference in Port-Harcourt and she has to ensure that all her devices are protected while on this trip. These tips would guide her.

Securing information is not limited to the encryption and authentication of data processed and received by an individual’s device. There are physical threats that can easily compromise the integrity and confidentiality of information, this can be a simple glance over the shoulder on your plain text email before it is encrypted with that strongest encryption algorithm known. Employing electronic security mechanisms is as important as physical security techniques to protect information.

You should position your computer screen carefully, both on your desk and when you are away from the office, in order to prevent others from reading what is displayed there. In the office, this means considering the location of windows, open doors and the guest waiting area, if you have one.

Most desktop computer cases have a slot where you can attach a padlock that will prevent anyone without a key from getting inside. If you have cases like this in the office, you should lock them so that intruders cannot tamper with their internal hardware. You might also consider this feature when purchasing new computers.

Use a locking security cable, where possible, to prevent intruders from stealing the computers themselves. This is especially important for laptops and small desktops that could be hidden inside a bag or under a coat.


Make sure that, when you restart your computer, it asks you for a password before allowing you to run software and access files.

Again, be sure to choose a secure password.


Keep your laptop, your mobile phone and other portable devices that contain sensitive information with you at all times, especially if you are travelling or staying at a hotel; even if you are stepping out for a meal.

If you have a laptop, tablet or other mobile device, try to avoid putting them on display. There is no need to show thieves that you are carrying such valuable hardware with much information. Avoid using your portable devices in public areas, and consider carrying your laptop in something that does not look like a laptop bag.

The goal is to reduce the exposure of information to unauthorized access, you may not be able to completely prevent physical attacks but how do you make sure that your information are not compromised when the attack occurs, how do you prevent compromising your correspondence and collaborators? These are the ultimate goals of enforcing physical security controls.

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Summary steps

  • Make sure your mobile devices are within your reach at every time.
  • Set a password for all devices. You can also enable a BIOS password for your laptops.