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Updated Apr 15, 2024

How to Buy a Secure Business Laptop

Secure business laptops offer the latest biometric protection and encryption, but what should you look for when choosing computers for your staff?

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Written By: Neil CuminsBusiness Ownership Insider and Senior Analyst
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

Table of Contents

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Keeping data secure is essential for companies of all sizes. Punitive fines are levied on businesses that don’t adequately protect client data, as evidenced by the $877 million Amazon had to pay in 2021 after breaching European GDPR legislation. Even small businesses run the risk of massive fines if electronic data is mislaid, in addition to the practical and reputational challenges of restoring lost data.

Protected hardware is a key weapon in the battle against data loss or theft. For example, companies are increasingly adopting secure business laptops to keep their data safe. We’ll explain how to select secure business laptops and why they’re so crucial. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Business and consumer laptops differ in configuration options, security features, included software and price.

How to buy a secure business laptop

The best secure business laptops ensure private data remains private using a combination of hardware, software, physical connections and cutting-edge technology. Follow these steps to make this purchase for your business:

  • Consider your computing needs. What data must your company protect? What laptop features will best help you accomplish this?
  • Research business laptop options. Spend time researching devices that meet your needs. Check out online merchants and in-person computer stores. Read product reviews on consumer websites to see how users feel about the devices.
  • Test various business laptops. If possible, ask laptop providers or manufacturers for a laptop and feature demo. Use this opportunity to ask questions about the device and address your concerns about its security features.
  • Purchase and implement the device. Once you’ve settled on a laptop model, purchase the number of devices necessary for your company. Consider whether all employees need a secure laptop, and train laptop recipients on all security features. While you must adhere to your budget, don’t cheap out on business laptops. This investment can potentially save you significant money and protect you from devastating losses.

Key attributes of secure business laptops

Keep in mind that poor access management leads to the majority of cyberattacks. Your secure business laptops will address access management and other cybersecurity risks with the following security features: 

1. Secure business laptops include biometric security features.

Biometric security features lock down your laptop with physical attributes — creating more robust security than even the strongest passwords. Today’s biometric systems come in two primary varieties: fingerprint scanners and facial-recognition cameras.

  • Fingerprint scanners: The most common biometric authentication tool is a built-in fingerprint scanner that lets users log in to the laptop with their finger. Fingerprint-scanning technology is usually incorporated into the trackpad or power button, though you can also plug third-party scanners into a USB socket.
  • Facial recognition cameras: Facial recognition technology is used for multiple purposes, including device unlocking and targeted facial recognition advertising. This technology is even more accurate than fingerprint scanning because a flat reproduction can’t fool 3D sensors. Many non-Apple devices rely on Microsoft’s Windows Hello service, which is the biometric technology on most of its Surface laptops, and third-party products from ASUS, HP, Razer and Dell.
FYIDid you know
Some time and attendance systems use biometrics to clock employees in and out and accurately track hours. However, it's crucial to adhere to biometric time and attendance laws to protect employee privacy.

2. Secure business laptops include smart card readers.

A smart card reader is a robust alternative to traditional passwords and biometric authentication. To log in to a protected laptop, users must insert a physical security card and then enter a PIN. From there, the smart card communicates wirelessly with the laptop to log the user in.

Smart card readers are generally available only on business laptops, including an array of Dell, Lenovo, HP and ASUS machines. If they’re not installed as a standard feature, a modest upgrade costing less than $20 may be enough to add a card reader to your preferred device. Alternatively, external smart card readers pair with your PC via a USB port.

Smart cards are typically used in enterprise scenarios where a large company provides laptops to its employees. However, you can also order smart cards from online vendors.

3. Secure business laptops use encryption.

Computer encryption keeps data on a laptop safe by making it unreadable for anyone without the password required to decode it. It’s critical to encrypt your data even if a login password screen protects your computer, because that line of defense will be useless if someone steals your laptop. The hard drive can simply be plugged into another PC to access any stored data. 

Advanced users can encrypt their files using third-party software, but Microsoft’s BitLocker service is a good option for the average worker using a Windows laptop. It encrypts files via a special chip, called a Trusted Platform Module, attached to some laptop motherboards. Here’s what you’ll need to access BitLocker. 

  • Windows Professional: BitLocker is available only on the pricier Pro, Enterprise and Education versions of Microsoft’s Windows 10 and 11 operating systems. (It’s also available on Windows Server installations.) This full-volume encryption platform uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption on each hard disk drive sector.
  • Trusted Platform Module (TPM): This blocks thieves and attackers from accessing data unless they have access to a special password, which is partially stored on your computer’s internal drive and partially stored on the TPM itself – a form of two-factor authentication. Since each TPM chip has built-in tamper protection, a thief can’t place the drive on another motherboard to bypass the encryption. 

You don’t have to be tech-savvy to use a TPM; if your computer comes with one, it will automatically encrypt your data. If you ever need to access the full password to recover your files, you can view it inside your BitLocker vault, which is available after logging in to your Microsoft account. 

Use one of the best secure messaging apps to keep your business correspondence and data confidential.

4. Secure business laptops feature a lock slot.

Securing your data is essential, but so is preventing a device from falling into the wrong hands. Many business laptops come with a special metal hole called a Kensington lock slot that lets you physically chain your system to a desk with a cable. 

Like bike locks, the cable can be removed only after a four-digit combination code is entered or a key is used. The cables are typically carbon steel wrapped in cut-resistant plastic, requiring a saw and extensive effort to slice through. 

5. Secure business laptops feature secure remote management.

Secure management technology is mandatory for employers responsible for keeping company systems updated. It enables business owners to track, locate or wipe systems if they’re lost or stolen. Many third-party desktop management suites can meet your business’s needs and provide unified endpoint management for laptops, phones and tablets.

The Intel VPro platform is an example of remote management technology. It can run software and group policy updates even when a system is turned off, which is helpful whether you need to locate the system, restrict access to it or wipe it clean if it’s been lost or stolen. 

Secure management technology can be part of a secure home office for businesses that must protect remote hardware and minimize the risk of data loss.

Why you need secure business laptops

Business owners and IT managers are responsible for their organizations’ confidential information, including company, employee and customer data. Keeping this information safe is critical. If you don’t, you may face financial, reputational and practical consequences. 

Secure business laptops mitigate risk and are necessary for the following reasons:

  • Employees make mistakes. Even the best and most responsible employees can be weak links in the security chain. According to a Tessian report, remote and hybrid employees are distracted, and many are making mistakes that compromise an organization’s security. For example, if a staff member leaves a business laptop on a train, the business’s owners and managers will bear the brunt of the repercussions if critical data is lost or breached. Secure business laptops provide an extra protective measure against human error. 
  • Legislation is continually changing. Staying current with data protection laws can be complex and time-consuming. With 137 countries issuing proprietary legislation about securing data and maintaining privacy, businesses that operate internationally would find it impossible to ensure compliance manually. A secure business laptop with appropriate software installed should meet most global regulations, ensuring you don’t unwittingly breach the law. 
  • Breaches could bankrupt your business. Mitigating the damage of a data breach can be devastating. According to IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach report, the global average data breach cost in 2023 was almost $4.5 million. Even more alarmingly, smaller companies simply don’t have the resources to bounce back from a devastating data breach. Protecting against one is a case of life and death for your brand.
  • Reputational damage takes years to mitigate. Even if your business has sufficient financial resources to survive a data breach, its name may be permanently tarnished. Some brands have as many headlines and search results relating to a high-profile breach as their core services. The damage could be so significant that only embarking on a business rebrand can fully disassociate the company from its historic sins. And it’s easy to lose your audience when rebranding.   
Did You Know?Did you know
Other ways to improve your business's cybersecurity include training staff to identify threats, conducting periodic cybersecurity audits and implementing multifactor authentication on business accounts.

Taking care of business

Managers and administrators aren’t expected to have an intimate understanding of global data protection laws or the latest malware threats. However, they’ll still be liable if corporate data is leaked or stolen. Purchasing and distributing secure business laptops in your organization is one of the best ways to protect the valuable data belonging to your company and customers. Secure business laptops take some of the pressure off cybersecurity responsibilities because they outsource numerous aspects of data protection to industry experts like Microsoft. They’re a smart investment in your business’s future success.

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Written By: Neil CuminsBusiness Ownership Insider and Senior Analyst
Neil Cumins is an award-winning small business owner who has run a limited company for nearly two decades. Through his personal and professional experiences, he is well-versed in a range of B2B and B2C topics, from invoicing to advertising to the use of artificial intelligence. Prior to starting his own business, Cumins worked as a marketing executive. With deep insights into the ever-changing technology landscape, Cumins is particularly skilled at evaluating business software and guiding fellow entrepreneurs to the tools and strategies that will equip them for entrepreneurial success. Over the years, he has worked with some of the world’s biggest hardware and software manufacturers, as well as countless SaaS brands. Today, he also spends his time consulting on compensation and other business matters.
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