In this blog we usually discuss software solutions for information security. But one of the important aspects of cybersecurity is various measures aimed at preventing physical access to data and devices that contain it. Here, of course, there is no doing without hardware. So, here I overview several categories of gadgets for data protection at the physical level.
Port locks for connectors
Connectors pose a major physical security problem. Anyone passing by could plug in something interesting. A hardware keylogger, a malware-infected flash drive, or even their own computer. And it’s hard to prevent, since connectors are literally everywhere.
Hard, but not impossible: there are special locks that help to protect almost any connector in your hardware zoo: USB (of any type, including USB-C), 8P8C (RJ-45 on the vendor’s site, but we know better) and 6P6C (popularly known as RJ-11), SFP and QSFP, DB-9 and DB-25 serial ports, memory card slots, display connectors, and so on.
Besides security plugs for empty ports, there are locks for connectors that are constantly in use. They protect against the physical disconnection of something from a computer or, say, a router (for stealing or replacing with malicious device).
In a nutshell, if you’ve long wanted total control over all your connectors, but had no idea on how to approach it, now you know.
Among similar gadgets, we could mention devices for protecting USB flash drives that allow you to lock the USB connector and literally chain the drive to something. Such devices will not, of course, help against the determined thief, but will deter the opportunist passerby from removing your flash drive with one deft hand movement.
Not everyone has heard of the Kensington Security Slot, aka Kensington lock — an anti-theft system for computer equipment. It can often be found on laptops, dock stations, desktops, and monitors.
Again, we can’t say that the Kensington lock provides 100% protection against theft — special tools can defeat it. However, it makes stealing equipment a bit harder for the untrained criminal. It’s also particularly effective against casual thieves who cannot thwart the temptation to steal expensive devices that happen to be left unattended.
Anti-spy screen protectors
If you’re worried about people peering over your (or your employee’s) shoulder, there’s good news: you can protect against this, too. This is what special polarizing screens are for. These protective filters reduce the viewing angle to such an extent that only someone sitting directly in front of the screen can see the display.
There are polarizing screens not just for laptops, but for smartphones and tablets as well.
Faraday cages of every creed
In today’s world, there is no escape from wireless technologies and related threats, like completely contactless data interception, relay attacks, radio tracking, or even electromagnetic pulses that can destroy information. However, there are so-called Faraday cages that can block electromagnetic radiation and thus defend against such threats.
“Cage” is a slight misnomer: in reality, it can be a “Faraday envelope”, “Faraday wallet”, “Faraday bag” or whatever, depending on what you want to protect: a portable hard drive from external exposure, a contactless card from relay attacks, a phone from cell-tower triangulation, and so on.
Among the various products you can buy are “Faraday fabrics”. These you can use to build your own shielded container of any size and shape.
Anti-peeping covers for webcams
The problem of malware and websites spying on users through the webcam pops up all too regularly. Sure, there are software-based fixes for the issue, but for maximum peace of mind, the best way is to physically cover the camera lens. A few years ago, Mark Zuckerberg’s MacBook drew attention to itself for having tape over not only the webcam but also the microphone.
Instead of duct tape, you can apply a more elegant solution: a special shutter to cover the webcam. This offers reliable anti-peeping protection with one hand motion. And if the camera is needed, the same hand motion will make it available for use. Any online marketplace will sell such covers for a pittance.
Bluetooth tags for locking Windows
Many people aren’t in the habit of locking their computer when they step away from it. But it’s one that all employees should develop, of course. To get the ball rolling, it’s worth telling them about several ways to lock a computer quickly and painlessly. And to be on the safe side, ask them to use the dynamic computer locking feature, which appeared last year in Windows 10 and 11.
This feature is aptly named “Dynamic Lock”. It uses Bluetooth to lock the computer automatically if the device paired with it moves away. Microsoft’s intention was for this device to be a smartphone. But there is a drawback: some people don’t always take their phones when they leave their workplaces.
So, instead of a smartphone, a special tag that can be attached to, say, a keychain would be more suitable in some cases. Often such tags double up as a two-factor authentication device, increasing security on two fronts at once. Here are a couple of examples of such devices.
Build employee security awareness
It goes without saying that any security measures and solutions depend directly on the human factor. It is imperative that company employees understand the information security implications of their actions, and know where to expect threats from and, ideally, how to respond to incidents.
That means raising awareness of potential threats and ways to counter them. Our Automated Security Awareness Platform is the perfect tool for building cybersecurity awareness.