One of the biggest advantages of Chrome OS is its inherent security features. It’s considered one of the most secure consumer-focused operating systems out there, but here’s how you can get a little more out of it.
First, let’s talk about what we mean by “security”. I don’t want to confuse this with “privacy”, which is something different. We go to great lengths to protect your data on your Chromebook, in case it gets lost or stolen, and really, just for peace of mind.
Start with your Google account
Just like when securing your Android phone, securing your Chromebook starts before you even log in. Because Chrome OS literally uses your Google Account all, you must first ensure that your Google Account is protected.
While it starts with choosing a secure password, you’ll also want to enable two-factor authentication (2FA). There are a host of 2FA options available for your Google account, including SMS codes (which are inherently insecure, but still better than nothing), no-code 2FA that uses a prompt on your phone, U2F keys, and more. Moreover. Pick the one that works best for you, but know that if you want the best possible security, a U2F key is the way to go. Something like Google’s Titan Key bundle is a great option.
You can enable 2FA on your Google account in the My account > 2-step verification menu. Also, go ahead and do a security check while you’re there – you know, just to make sure everything else is up and up.
Soon: How to Create a Strong Password (and Remember It)
Install all available updates, especially if it requires a Powerwash
Google makes sure Chromebooks stay as secure as possible for as long as possible through constant updates. Although slightly inconvenient, it is important that these updates are always installed when available for your system.
That’s really the simple part: click the restart button when an update is available and you’re done. However, you should also regularly check the About Chrome menu which is located in Settings > Menu > About Chrome. This will let you know if your Chromebook is up to date, but will also tell you if a more crucial update that requires a Powerwash is available.
Since “Powerwashing” is what Chrome OS calls a factory reset, this will wipe the device clean. You’ll need to sign in and set up your Chromebook again, but that’s usually not a problem because Chrome OS keeps everything backed up and in sync. The only thing to pay special attention to is anything stored locally on the device, such as in the Downloads folder, as these items are not automatically backed up.
Check out the Privacy & Security menu
Chrome OS does a great job of maintaining tight security as is, but it never hurts to do a little follow-up on your own. In the Privacy & Security menu (Settings > Advanced > Privacy & Security), you’ll find several relevant features that you might want to pay more attention to.
Specifically, you’ll want to make sure Safe Browsing is turned on, which will alert you to potentially dangerous sites. Likewise, you can enable the “Improve Safe Browsing” feature if you wish. It just sends some system information and page content back to Google.
Enable Find My Device on Chromebooks with Android Apps
If your Chromebook is a newer model and has access to the Google Play Store, you’ll need to make sure Find My Device (formerly known as Android Device Manager) is turned on so you can locate your Chromebook if it’s lost or stolen.
This option should be enabled by default, but watch it to be sure. You’ll find it in Settings > Google Play Store > Manage Android Preferences > Google > Security > Find My Device.
Once you hit the menu, make sure the toggle in the top corner is on. Then, if you ever lose your device (or if it’s stolen), you can try tracking its location remotely.
Soon: How to find your lost or stolen Android phone
Overall, Chrome OS is about as secure as any operating system you’re going to get, especially out of the box. Part of what makes it so nice is that you don’t have to do much to make sure it stays that way because most things are enabled by default. The most important thing you can do is make sure your Google Account is secure with a strong password and 2FA. Otherwise, you’re just going into some settings to make sure everything is enabled as it should be.