Every work laptop has several security protections in place to ensure that corporate information stays within the company.
When you start working for an organization you are required to disable all personal protections on your phone and computer so that there is no risk of unauthorized access.
But once you leave the company things get tougher as it becomes difficult to juggle between work and personal life.
The restrictions on the laptop make it impossible to install any third-party applications or use other devices such as flash drives which may be required for day-to-day activities like watching movies listening to music editing documents etc.
Fortunately there is a solution to this problem – modifying your work laptop. Here are some ways to convert your work laptop into a personal laptop.
There are several ways in which you can convert your work laptop into a personal laptop.
The easiest way is to delete all work-related information and turn it back to factory settings. This will remove all the software required for working with the company thus making your computer truly personal.
But if you want to keep some applications or files you can disable the security settings on your laptop so that all the third-party software and flash drives work with it.
- 1) Disable Windows Defender
- 2) Use TrueCrypt to Encrypt Data
- 3) Disable Windows Firewall
- 4) Use Portable Applications
- 5) Disable Windows Updates
- 6) Use Virtual Machines
- 7) Use BitLocker to Secure Data
- 8) Use Portable Apps for Encryption
- 9) Use Steganography Software
- 10) Use Self-Destructing Message Apps
- 11) Use Cached Data on Your Personal Laptop
- 12) Create a Separate User Account
- 13) Use Virtual Machines for Personal Activities
- 14) Use Quick Boot Updater to Disable Fast Startup
- 15) Change Work Profile to a Guest Mode
- 16) Create a New Theme for the Guest Account
- 17) Password Protect Folders and Files with Steganography App
- 18) Password Protect USB Flash Drives for Personal Files
- 19) Open Private Browsing Window For Privacy on Shared Computers
- 20) Turn On File and Printer Sharing
- 21) Set Up VPN Connection for Online Banking and Shopping
1) Disable Windows Defender
Your computer will come with pre-installed antivirus software such as Microsoft Security Essentials but it won’t be enough to protect your data.
While working for the company you need a lot of antivirus programs to ensure that everything will be safe.
These antivirus scanners make sure that no malicious software gets onto the computer and protects the computer from ransomware spyware etc.
But when you are working for an organization data security is very important so it is recommended to install multiple antivirus programs.
However you don’t need these security protections when you are working for yourself or if you are using your work laptop after leaving the company.
These antivirus protection tools use up a lot of processor power and memory which can slow down your computer.
The best thing to do is to uninstall all the extra antivirus software and enable Windows Defender which is a built-in security protection tool in Windows OS.
Enabling Windows Defender will ensure that you have a secure browser with no malicious software or sites. In addition it also protects from ransomware and other types of malware attacks as well as spyware.
2) Use TrueCrypt to Encrypt Data
TrueCrypt allows you to encrypt all the data on your work laptop making it not accessible for others without proper authorization.
It is open-source software that allows you to encrypt files folders disks and even whole partitions.
You can create a virtual encrypted disk within a file and save all your sensitive data in it.
You can either save the encrypted files on a USB drive or even email them to yourself for convenience.
In addition you can use TrueCrypt to create a hidden operating system within your existing OS.
It will be impossible for the hijacker or thief to get into this virtual environment without proper authorization from you.
3) Disable Windows Firewall
Your work laptop will have lots of security measures in place to protect the company data.
One of these is the firewall which prevents hackers from accessing your system remotely.
If you are using a public wireless connection or working on a computer that anyone can access it is recommended to disable Windows Firewall.
If you are using public Wi-Fi you should disable the firewall to prevent your system from being hacked.
4) Use Portable Applications
Since you don’t have any work restrictions on your laptop why not make full use of it by installing all the third-party applications.
You can save time by not having to install these applications later.
All you need is to save the portable version of your favorite software in a pen drive or network-attached storage and use it directly from there when required.
It makes sense to have all the third-party apps in a single location rather than having them scattered on different drives in your system.
5) Disable Windows Updates
At work you will have to keep updating your computer every day as new patches come out with security updates.
This might be important while you are using the company laptop but it is not required after leaving the organization.
Just disable Windows Updates so that you don’t waste time installing all the updates every week or month.
You can always update your system later when you want to.
6) Use Virtual Machines
Virtual machines are another way of securing your data after leaving the organization or using it for personal use.
These virtual machines allow you to create different instances of Windows OS on one computer very easily.
Just install VirtualBox which is a free virtual machine software and create different versions of Windows OS which you can use for personal purposes.
You can also create a separate work environment within your existing OS to access all the important data.
7) Use BitLocker to Secure Data
BitLocker is another security feature in Windows that encrypts entire partitions on your hard drive.
Just right-click on the drive where you want to enable encryption and select Turn on BitLocker.
In addition you can use a USB drive to store the recovery keys in case your hard drive gets corrupted or stolen.
8) Use Portable Apps for Encryption
While using TrueCrypt is a good way of encrypting files and folders it is not as easy as using portable apps.
Therefore you can use third-party encryption software to encrypt any data on your work laptop very easily before sending it home or shipping it to someone else.
This is quite similar to TrueCrypt but uses different methods of securing data.
You just need to download your preferred encryption software and store it on a USB drive or email it to yourself.
Later when you get home from work just install the app on your personal laptop and use the encrypted files directly from there without having to encrypt them again.
9) Use Steganography Software
Steganography is a method of encrypting data in a photograph in such a way that no one can detect it.
In other words you can use this software to hide private photographs from anyone who is trying to snoop into your personal life.
You just need to download the Steganography software and take secret pictures when required.
Later create encrypted files from those pictures and send them to your personal email address or store them in a USB drive which you can use on your personal laptop.
10) Use Self-Destructing Message Apps
Here’s another way of securing data at work.
You just need to download any self-destructing message software from the internet and set a time and date after which the message is automatically destroyed.
Store all the messages in a USB drive and use them on your personal laptop without having to delete them from your system.
They can be sent across to anyone safely by encrypting with Steganography software.
11) Use Cached Data on Your Personal Laptop
While working on the company computer keep installing third-party apps on your personal laptop when required.
They can be used for official purposes when you are at work but when you get home after performing any task just close that app in their respective native mode.
Next time when you boot up your system with that app installed it will take a few seconds to launch the app as it is already cached on your personal laptop.
12) Create a Separate User Account
While this might not be compulsory but you can create another user account and log in as that user when you want to carry out some tasks where security is important.
You can use whatever password or sign-in method that is available to you and then switches to the main account when required.
All your personal activities will be hidden from the main account.
13) Use Virtual Machines for Personal Activities
Yes using virtual machines is an easy way of using two different operating systems on one computer.
You can create virtual machines within your existing operating system and use them to run a completely separate operating system.
For example you can use Windows 8 Professional on your work laptop and create another virtual machine for using other versions of Windows like XP or 7.
Your personal activities will be hidden from the primary account within Windows 8 while the only thing visible in case there is any will be the virtual machine within Windows 8.
14) Use Quick Boot Updater to Disable Fast Startup
If you have an option to disable the quick boot-up feature then doing so can save you a lot of time when switching between work and a personal laptop.
Most computer manufacturers implement this feature for faster boot-ups but at times your system will boot up faster than usual even when you are logged into your main account.
This can give away your personal activities to your IT Managers or Bosses if they possess the necessary skills to hack through your laptop.
So make sure you disable this feature at least for dual accounts on the same computer.
15) Change Work Profile to a Guest Mode
Work profiles are set up by the companies on some computers so that employees can use them for official purposes while keeping their personal activities hidden from the IT department.
So when you get access to a work profile you can use three different methods to keep your private data hidden.
Firstly go to the installation directory of the Guest account and delete all its contents from there.
Later install a virtual machine for running Windows XP or 7 on that account and then configure it as a Guest account.
This way all your personal activities will be hidden from the main account.
16) Create a New Theme for the Guest Account
You can create a new theme for your guest operating system by changing its window color desktop wallpaper etc.
This way you won’t get bored of seeing the same old things every time you switch to this account.
How to actually do it is beyond the scope of this tutorial you will have to search online for tutorials on how to change XP or 7 themes using 3rd party apps.
Once done all your personal activities will be hidden from everyone until they log into that account.
17) Password Protect Folders and Files with Steganography App
You can hide your personal files and folders by using a steganography app for Windows.
The reason why you cannot do this through other methods is that all data remains accessible to anyone who has physical access to the computer unless you password protect it.
If you’re not sure what steganography is and how it works then you can do a quick online search for it.
There are a number of apps that support this feature and one of them is Wavesteg.
After setting up a password a text message will be hidden inside a .wav file within the folder you specify.
You can create as many random files as you want or create a single .wav file with many messages hidden inside it.
Now when someone tries to access this folder they will be prompted for a password while all other folders remain unaffected.
18) Password Protect USB Flash Drives for Personal Files
In case you have a secure flash drive with password protection software it can be used to protect the personal files on your laptop.
This way no one will be able to access them without knowing their password.
One of the most important things that every employee should know is that anyone who has physical access to your computer can recover your personal files without needing to know their names as long as you haven’t encrypted them yourself.
19) Open Private Browsing Window For Privacy on Shared Computers
There are a number of ways to keep your privacy safe on public computers but the easiest way is to open up a private browsing window first.
For this open up Firefox Internet Explorer or any other browser you use and switch to their private browsing mode.
Now open another browser window for your personal activities.
This way no one else on the same computer will be able to see what websites you are visiting or some of your personal documents that you might have opened up in some other session.
20) Turn On File and Printer Sharing
Preventing other people from accessing your personal files works only when you are the only person left in the office or are using a public computer.
If not file sharing should be enabled so that everything being transferred over the wireless network is encrypted by default.
Enabling this feature is as easy as going into Network and Internet settings from the Control Panel.
In some computers you might have to go to Network Connections first and then click on Wireless Network Connection.
Now a window will pop up asking you if file-sharing should be enabled or not.
If it does not show up double-check that the wireless network is enabled and you are connected to it.
This will securely encrypt your data before sending it over the network and make sure no one else can intercept it by using a different encryption key.
21) Set Up VPN Connection for Online Banking and Shopping
Although simple this method works like a charm because of its ease of use.
All you have to do is set up a VPN connection and sign in using your credentials.
Next you will have to use your bank’s or favorite e-commerce website’s IP address as the destination.
Now you can safely enter your login information and other necessary details before making a transaction.