Why Clark Howard Wants You To Build a ‘Financial Chromebook’: Imagine being able to pay around $200 for a device that is easy to use, super-fast to boot up, and can act as the linchpin in your cyber threat security plan for yourself and your finances.
Those are only a couple of the reasons why his “Financial Chromebook” is loved by money expert Clark Howard.
What Is a Chromebook?
You’re probably familiar with traditional laptops running Windows or as an operating system with some version of macOS. The Chromebook is Google’s entrance into the same marketplace for laptops and works on Google’s own Chrome OS (operating system).
With Google’s namesake browser (Chrome), Chromebooks come pre-loaded and are super easy to use. And here’s a plus: There’s almost no boot-up time when you fire up a Chromebook. That’s because the cloud stores everything, so it’s not a data-heavy process.
Chromebooks can be a great choice if you need a new laptop, but you don’t want to spend a lot of cash. Chromebooks also save you money since a Microsoft Office suite doesn’t have to be bought. For its word processing (Docs) and spreadsheet (Sheets) functionality, the Chromebook relies on free Google products.
And if you’re used to using something like Quicken to track your personal finances, you’ll find that you can still use it on a Chromebook with a cloud sync feature.
How Does ‘Sandboxing’ Work on a Chromebook?
For all financial transactions in your life, Clark has long suggested you have a dedicated Chromebook.
The justification here is clear. They are almost impenetrable to viruses because Chromebooks are built to store anything in the cloud, not on a physical hard drive.
For your investments, using a dedicated Chromebook is a prime example of a term known as “sandboxing” in computer security circles.
The principle of corralling a part of your machine into a simulated world (or “sandbox”) where you do all your tasks is sandboxing.
The principle is that you’re absolutely walled off from other areas of your device when you’re surfing inside the virtual sandbox. In the sandbox, everything downloaded from the internet is isolated. Similarly, there is no access to your files, your operating system, or any other part of your machine for any programs you want to run inside the sandbox (such as email programs).
You simply remove the contents of the sandbox before leaving the browser or software to kill any viruses, spyware, or keyloggers that you might have picked up along the way.
But the beautiful thing is here: Chromebooks do this as part of their service effortlessly. It is fundamental to the architecture of their operating system.
Are Chromebooks better for financial protection than other computers?
Nisos security expert Willis McDonald spoke to Clark.com and told us that there is no way to stay absolutely safe from criminals who are trying to hack their financial accounts. Chromebooks, though, come pretty darn close.
“A Chromebook isn’t inherently more secure than other devices, but you’re less likely than you would, say, a Windows machine to get infected using the Chromebook,” McDonald says. “Criminals are not targeting Chromebooks as much because they don’t run on a popular operating system.”
Meanwhile, USA Today states that the Chromebook operating system often mitigates the possibility of viruses by disallowing typical programs or applications to be installed. And the Chromebook maintains software integrity during each reboot and restores any intrusions if appropriate.
The Chromebook automatically manages the installation of checked security updates from Google, too!
So the whole idea is to segregate the vulnerabilities, and Chromebooks do it beautifully.
Tips for ensuring online financial protection using your Chromebook
A Chromebook can only be used to view the accounts of your bank or credit union, the online bill payments of such financial institutions, and your brokerage or savings accounts.
You may also use it to access the official Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit bureau locations, as well as to download your free annual credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.
On the subject of social security, Clark says it’s necessary for you to access your SocialSecurity account from your Chromebook.
He does, however, warn against using it to connect with government agencies such as the Motor Vehicles Department.
We also have concerns about whether it’s possible to use a Chromebook to pay your taxes online. This is not recommended by Clark because you import data such as your W-2, which can be a target for tax scams.
And for any of the following reasons, you can never, ever, ever use your Chromebook:
- Surfing the web
- Online shopping
- Email access
- Visiting Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform
Take these steps to move to a Chromebook when you’re able to
Creating new Google account credentials specifically for your Chromebook is one of the first things you’ll want to do when you get a Chromebook. If you really want to make things airproof as much as you can, Clark says, this is the way to do it.
Meanwhile, McDonald suggests going one step further.
On all your Google accounts, what I would advise is that you set up two-factor authentication. While it’s not foolproof, in general, being able to bypass multi-factor authentication is much harder and much less common for criminals. So it stops the vast majority of criminals from getting into your account with Google.
You can uninstall any financial bookmarks on your old machine and clear your background once you have your Chromebook up and running. From that point on, you should never access those accounts using anything other than your Chromebook.
If you need to set up a new account to receive an email, do so on your other computer, then access the account in the future on your Chromebook. Again, after the account is set up, you may want to clear your background.
You should never save passwords on your Chromebook as a reminder, and remember to use two-factor authentication every time!
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