Most popular PCs and smartphones come with standard security features that protect your device, information and data. Technology companies take many steps to protect your security and prevent others from accessing your information.
Below are the security features that help keep your accounts and personal information secure on popular devices. Using these features will help keep your accounts and personal information secure.
Computer security features
Today’s laptop and desktop computers have several native programs that protect user information from malware and spyware. In fact, operating systems, like Windows 8 and above, provide the following security features:
- Windows Defender antivirus software scans your computer programs for malicious software, allowing you to identify and delete harmful programs manually.
- Windows Firewall provides a safety net between your device and the Internet, halting malicious programs.
- Bitlocker automatically encrypts your files.1
- Windows Hello uses biometric password capabilities that use facial recognition, fingerprint readers and iris recognition to confirm your identity.2
- Windows Store features well-vetted, trusted apps for download.3
Other features include:
- Increased security for Microsoft’s newest browser, Microsoft Edge 4
- Device registration, which can help with device recovery after a theft 5
- Certain PC models come with theft recovery programs, which enable GPS tracking for a device in the event it’s stolen
- Windows passwords
- BIOS passwords, which allow or restrict access to your computer’s basic input/output system
- Frequent security updates 6
Many PCs also have fingerprint scanners, facial and iris recognition software and voice recognition software. In addition, Microsoft allows you to block certain websites while Internet browsing, meaning you can monitor your children’s browsing and discuss safe Internet use with them.
For additional protection, you can purchase (or download for free) any number of antivirus and malware programs that are offered by private cyber security companies.
Laptop users can also set passwords to access their machine, which is strongly encouraged. A simple password, however, will not deter some hackers. If your machine is stolen, a savvy hacker can simply reinstall the Windows Operating System to gain access to your machine, a move that will also delete all your files. To prevent this from happening, you can set a BIOS password, which controls a computer’s basic boot sequence. A BIOS password provides additional security, but be sure not to forget the password or misplace it — resetting a BIOS password will require the assistance of the computer’s manufacturer.7
Mac OS security features
Apple's operating system and security features include many of the same security functionality as Windows machines. While there is a popular belief that Macs are not vulnerable to malware, this is incorrect. Macs do, by and large, contract relatively few instances of malware, but they can be infected.
To prevent malware on your Mac, you should understand the following:
- Download software updates regularly. Apple consistently updates their software and patches known security issues. If your machine notifies you that the OS needs updated, do so as soon as possible.
- The Apple Gatekeeper filters your available apps for downloading. The Gatekeeper allows only apps from the App Store or those made by known developers to be downloaded, depending on your preferences.
- FileVault 2 Encryption secures your data by encrypting your entire drive, and any removable drive, if you choose.
- Apple’s Safari contains a password generator that provides difficult-to-crack passwords and remembers them with iCloud Keychain.8
Android security features
Android phones and their operating systems have become widely adopted throughout the world, with more than 1 billion users. One reason for Android’s popularity is its open source technology, which means that Android’s operating environment is very friendly for developers to create their own applications that can run on Android phones. With more apps and developers, however, comes the greater need for enhanced security procedures and protocols.9
Due to the popularity of Android devices, Android manufacturer Google continues to create and maintain a secure environment for users and developers through the following features:10
- Smart Lock Passwords: You can set a single password to access all of your usernames and passwords. That way, you don’t have to rely on memorable (and easy to crack) passwords for your logins.
- Fingerprint Scanning – Google recently developed and implemented fingerprint technology for Android.
- Device encryption, cryptography and data protection, which codes messages and data before it’s sent over a network.
- Linux Kernel – Android’s core security system, which adds another security layer to prevent fraudsters from tampering with application code.11
- Fraudulent App protection – Each Android application runs in an isolated environment or sandbox, meaning the application cannot access your phone’s texts and calls. This feature prevents an application from accessing sensitive information without your permission.
- Multiple password types, including PIN, passwords and patterns.12
Other Android tips to consider:
- Having a screen lock for your phone means a password is required for entry.
- Backing up your photos, passwords, music and other information ensures your data can be recovered if lost or if your phone is stolen.
- Encrypting your device helps protect your data if you lose your device. Modern Android phones are encrypted by default, but you can check your encryption status in your phone’s Settings.
- Activate two-step authentication for your device, which adds a code to your password when you attempt to access your account from another device or computer.13
iPhone security features
Apple consistently updates its software to prevent security breaches and cyber threats faced by their users. To protect its users, Apple implements the following:
- System updates – iPhone users are notified when an update has been made so they can download the latest OS version.
- Password protection – Apple provides several password options, including PINs, patterns and fingerprint access to phones, which can be configured to confirm in-phone purchases. Also, after five mistaken attempts at password entry, an iPhone will be locked out for a period of time.
- Apple keychain – stores and updates your usernames and passwords across your approved iOS devices.14
- Network security – iOS utilizes a Transport Layer Security, providing encryption for native apps that send information over a network.
- Apple Pay – This payment method uses credit or debit cards to make purchases while securing payment information during purchasing.
- Apple's iCloud Facetime and messaging all have built-in encryption.
- If your device is stolen or lost, you can use the “Find my iPhone” feature and use geolocating to find it. Likewise, an administrator on an Apple account can wipe a device remotely.
- Apple maintains a dedicated security team to monitor and expand security for iOS products.
- App Developer Regulation – Apple regulates their applications by keeping track of their application developer program, ensuring that every application developed and introduced to users can be traced to an individual, business or entity.15
The wide presence of smartphones, laptops and desktops – and the sensitive information these devices contain – has made them particularly attractive to criminals. By using the security features these devices offer, though, you can greatly reduce the chances that criminals will breach your devices.