separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

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juliewongferra
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separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by juliewongferra »

hello all!

I have been right scared into buying a chromebook for home use strictly for financial purposes. I hope that siloing my usage will help protect my banking data from viruses, malware, etc. But this also makes me think that there are other things that I would like to protect, like family photos or pdfs of documents like my will. So this leads me to ask how many separate computers do you have for designated purposes? (Such as financial matters, sensitive documents, or perhaps you keep a computer you don't care about for dangerous activity, such as viewing/downloading/uploading [(adult-only content) --admin LadyGeek].)

cheers,
jwf
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barnaclebob
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by barnaclebob »

I've only ever had one computer for everything and never had problems. The main concern is what happens to your data after it leaves your computer.
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lthenderson
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by lthenderson »

I too only have one computer and have never had problems. For all data stored like pictures, wills, etc. I pay a small annual fee to have them encrypted and backed up to the cloud so if on the odd chance my home gets wiped off the face of the earth or my computer corrupted, I still have access to everything and can retrieve them.
StandingRock
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by StandingRock »

I have an old piece of junk Dell laptop that I kept so I could run exactly 1 program. It requires some old graphics drivers that I never could get to work on Windows 10. Everything else is on my newer Dell laptop.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by Doom&Gloom »

Everything is on my PC. And backed up.
02nz
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by 02nz »

juliewongferra wrote: Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:00 pm hello all!

I have been right scared into buying a chromebook for home use strictly for financial purposes. I hope that siloing my usage will help protect my banking data from viruses, malware, etc. But this also makes me think that there are other things that I would like to protect, like family photos or pdfs of documents like my will. So this leads me to ask how many separate computers do you have for designated purposes? (Such as financial matters, sensitive documents, or perhaps you keep a computer you don't care about for dangerous activity, such as viewing/downloading/uploading [(adult-only content) --admin LadyGeek].)

cheers,
jwf
With basic cybersecurity measures, even segregating one computer for financial purposes is unnecessary. Yes you can reduce the risk a tiny bit, but as barnaclebob pointed out, there are far greater risks elsewhere that you don't control. Why would a hacker expend all that effort to hack your router's firewall, your wifi, AND your browser, when there are far more tempting targets (Target, Equifax ...). But others on this board don't feel the same way and have one computer, connected only by Ethernet, dedicated to accessing financial accounts while wearing a tin foil hat. :P

But maybe segregate the [(adult-only content) --admin LadyGeek] from the family photos, if not a separate computer then at least not in the same folder! :P
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juliewongferra
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by juliewongferra »

Thank you, everyone! I still am a little leaning to having a dedicated computer, but I like this balanced opinion to talk me off the ledge!

cheers,
jwf
If you aren't familiar with Mr. Bogle and his investment philosophy, then you don't know Jack!
Shallowpockets
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by Shallowpockets »

I guess you have to ask yourself, "where does it end"?
How many computers are you going to get? How many accounts do you have that need to be isolated?
Once you break the chain you may as well go back to one computer.
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by TheOscarGuy »

juliewongferra wrote: Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:00 pm hello all!

I have been right scared into buying a chromebook for home use strictly for financial purposes. I hope that siloing my usage will help protect my banking data from viruses, malware, etc. But this also makes me think that there are other things that I would like to protect, like family photos or pdfs of documents like my will. So this leads me to ask how many separate computers do you have for designated purposes? (Such as financial matters, sensitive documents, or perhaps you keep a computer you don't care about for dangerous activity, such as viewing/downloading/uploading [(adult-only content) --admin LadyGeek].)

cheers,
jwf
I have one single computer for personal use. I do not think having separate computer will help, unless the same computer is used for visiting shady websites. My recommendation: simply stay away from such websites!
jcpct
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by jcpct »

I use two computers. One (a PC) for financial stuff like quicken, turbo-tax and financial documents. The other (a Mac) for everything else. I did this because I prefer a Mac but Quicken and Turbo-Tax seem to run better on a PC.
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Blueskies123
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by Blueskies123 »

I only have one computer but I only use Chrome for financial transactions and Firefox for everything else. Another advantage of two computers is you have a backup if one crashes. I use Malwarebytes in addition to Norton for security and back up everything once a month.
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lightheir
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by lightheir »

The only real segregation you need to worry about is:

1. Public (like a library or even work) vs home (private) computers. The public one could have all sorts of bad stuff lurking on there, whereas the risk of that is much, much lower on your home computer. Don't do banking or other sensitive stuff on public computers to minimize risk. Note that I might consider a web-accessed device like a tablet given to a younger adolescent in your household, a 'public' device, as you don't know what malware or other bad stuff has been loaded onto it inadvertently.

2. If your workplace requires to you use a dedicated, separate work computer totally separate from home use. A good example is a laptop given to doctors for home medical record/image access; those computers are to remain very secure and not used for Netflix/etc at home due to risk of leaking private medical info. Or if you're an engineer working on very secret proprietary stuff.

With today's web tech, good passwords, good password managers, and dbl-factor authentication mean that you can typically use multiple home devices for finance without worry. (Note my caveat regarding devices that kids have access to above!)
bhough
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by bhough »

I have a mac desktop that is connected to a backup hard drive. I use that for financial stuff and to backup family photos and videos. I've recently installed linux on a laptop and a 2nd desktop just because I'm interested in learning about it. I don't have any data to support this, but it seems to me that Microsoft/PCs seem to have the most security issues, with Mac and Linux more secure. I've got to say, I now use the Linux (Ubuntu) more than the Mac for web surfing, documents and spreadsheets. The cool thing about Linux is it is open source, so you are not forced to pay for an upgrade every so often (but should contribute,...). Their freeware like Libre office is very good and learning how to navigate around a unix environment in my home's firewall protected wifi/ethernet network has really taught me alot.

Best to have a strong password and change it regularly on the financial sites you go to. As you probably know, the reason they hack places like target is to get a list of matching usernames and passwords. Then they try these matches on sites they really care about and sometimes get lucky as alot of people use the same username and password for all of their sites. Don't do that.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by Epsilon Delta »

lightheir wrote: Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:38 pm Note that I might consider a web-accessed device like a tablet given to a younger adolescent in your household, a 'public' device, as you don't know what malware or other bad stuff has been loaded onto it inadvertently.
I'd make this warning a bit stronger. I do know what malware was installed by an adolescent. Every conceivable piece of malware. And a lot of it was on purpose, not inadvertent.

Keep kids away from any computer or device you care about. I swear some of them have implants so they can install malware on devices that aren't connected to the net.
mrmass
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by mrmass »

If you're slightly techie, boot to a linux usb drive and fire up Mozilla and surf away.
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by LadyGeek »

Several off-topic posts were removed. As a reminder, this forum maintains a "family-friendly" environment. Not just for language, but subject matter.
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boomer_techie
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by boomer_techie »

Instead of separate computers, one could instead set up multiple logins on a single computer: One for leisure activities, one for financial and tax stuff, one to write your "Great American Novel", one for when the neighbor's kid comes over to do online homework, and so on. I don't know what level of protection the latest versions of Windows offer between accounts, but with MacOS and Linux you'll have the full power of Unix protections locking away everything in the "other" accounts. Further, I believe that the latest versions of MacOS's FileVault provide separate encryption per login so that even if a program breaks into another account, everything there is just gibberish.
audioaxes
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by audioaxes »

the only segmentation I find necessary is having a computer thats separate from other family members and possible guests.
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by LadyGeek »

mrmass wrote: Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:26 pm If you're slightly techie, boot to a linux usb drive and fire up Mozilla and surf away.
:!: Caution, Linux completely ignores Windows file permissions. Booting into Linux will give the user full run of the Windows drive - for every account and folder.

Never allow a guest to use Linux as an alternative to "borrowing" your computer. The best approach is to setup a dedicated "guest" account with restricted privileges. Windows 10 is done differently than Windows 7. See: How to set up a guest account on Windows 10 | Windows Central

============
For those with a tech background, setup a dedicated Virtual Machine (such as Oracle VM VirtualBox) and you are done. Linux works just fine in a VM environment. Bad guy problem? Just delete the VM and start with a fresh snapshot.
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by radiowave »

02nz wrote: Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:55 pm
With basic cybersecurity measures, even segregating one computer for financial purposes is unnecessary. Yes you can reduce the risk a tiny bit, but as barnaclebob pointed out, there are far greater risks elsewhere that you don't control. Why would a hacker expend all that effort to hack your router's firewall, your wifi, AND your browser, when there are far more tempting targets (Target, Equifax ...). But others on this board don't feel the same way and have one computer, connected only by Ethernet, dedicated to accessing financial accounts while wearing a tin foil hat. :P

But maybe segregate the [(adult-only content) --admin LadyGeek] from the family photos, if not a separate computer then at least not in the same folder! :P
I don't wear a tin foil hat :) But yes, I had an old Dell laptop that I slapped a new SSD, formatted with new Win10, and yes it's hooked up to a dedicated ethernet port and I only use this for financial online/files w backups of course. Makes me sleep better at night :)
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Smorgasbord
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by Smorgasbord »

I have three computers, a home desktop, an office desktop, and a laptop. No financial stuff is done on the laptop.
bighatnohorse
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by bighatnohorse »

A dedicated financial computer is a step up in security - especially if one is not a careful online user - I can neither confirm or deny that i have one.
An even better simple step is to have a dedicated email address that is used only for online accounts.
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by Trader Joe »

juliewongferra wrote: Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:00 pm hello all!

I have been right scared into buying a chromebook for home use strictly for financial purposes. I hope that siloing my usage will help protect my banking data from viruses, malware, etc. But this also makes me think that there are other things that I would like to protect, like family photos or pdfs of documents like my will. So this leads me to ask how many separate computers do you have for designated purposes? (Such as financial matters, sensitive documents, or perhaps you keep a computer you don't care about for dangerous activity, such as viewing/downloading/uploading [(adult-only content) --admin LadyGeek].)

cheers,
jwf
I have never needed a separate computer for anything.
Mike Scott
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by Mike Scott »

I have a box full of old laptops and I do use one of them only for financial stuff and because it has a huge hard drive also as backup space. Everything else is on a single computer that has nothing on it that cannot be replaced. Oh, don't forget the other old laptop that stays attached to the AV system. Why not? I have a dozen or more of them and they were free.
mega317
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by mega317 »

I'm a doctor and at three institutions have never needed a separate computer for EMR access. It's been through vpn. And lol to ever being given a laptop.
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BIGal
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by BIGal »

I have 3 computers. A Mac desktop for most everyday use. A MacBook Air for travel. A PC laptop that I only use for Quicken. I could eliminate the PC if/when Quicken for Mac program is improved.
Recently purchased a VPN (virtual private network) that I run on all machines to protect when accessing any financial functions.
I also have been using a password manager for several years which I find is the best way for me to manage that aspect. Best peripheral equipment is my Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner. I scan everything and shred originals (except tax documents).
SimonJester
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by SimonJester »

I would throw out multiple computers mean multiple systems you have to keep up to date with security patches, OS updates, etc...

Now you also have to sync password managers between computers (you are using a password manager right).

As long as you are meeting the security requirements of your financial institutions on your primary computer, they all will make you whole again should there be fraudulent activity on your account.


Use strong and different password on every site you visit with a good password manager, keep you main PC up to date security wise and use common sense when browsing and opening emails...
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin
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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by Earl Lemongrab »

I'm in the "one computer" camp. Up to date systems should remove most of the fear of attacks at the computer. You can then decide if two-factor security at the custodian is worth it.
Jags4186
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by Jags4186 »

Who knew Hugh Jackman was just checking his e-mail and Vanguard accounts!?

Image
MathWizard
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by MathWizard »

If you are really concerned, download any of various virtualization systems (virtualbox, Vmware, ...) and install
a Linux distribution on it, like CentOS, as a LiveUSB on a thumb drive. If your system has a DVD drive, you can install on
that.

Then have one for each activity, and only run from that USB drive.

USB thumb drives do not last forever, so you might want a 2nd copy of data.

I've demo'ed software from a 32 GB thumbdrive. A 64 GB drive would be plenty of space unless you
are saving lots of pictures or video.

Now you have N computers, pick your N.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by Epsilon Delta »

SimonJester wrote: Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:45 pm I would throw out multiple computers mean multiple systems you have to keep up to date with security patches, OS updates, etc...

Now you also have to sync password managers between computers (you are using a password manager right).
This step should be skipped. If you have separate computers to partition security levels you should keep the passwords in separate password manager databases. That makes it harder to accidentally log into hulu on the financial computer or Vanguard on the entertainment computer.

Not saying you should have separate computers, but if you do, do it right. :P
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22twain
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by 22twain »

I use a single Mac with three login accounts with different passwords: (1) system admin, (2) financial and medical stuff, (3) everything else. Accounts 2 and 3 do not have system admin privileges.
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rob
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by rob »

If you want to do this I would suggest Virtual Machines... Just spin up a linux instance inside the main computer, so your stuff and shut it down. Far more convenient then multiple machines....
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squirm
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by squirm »

You don't need VM's etc....The best thing is to do 2FA when possible and don't open weird emails and don't visit suspicious sites.
2015
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by 2015 »

Jags4186 wrote: Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:36 pm Who knew Hugh Jackman was just checking his e-mail and Vanguard accounts!?

Image
And here I thought he was checking his "adult-only content". I don't view such content so have only one computer.
n00b
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Re: separate computers for specific purposes--how many and for what?

Post by n00b »

I use a PC at work and a Mac at home. I take extra the precautions of using multi-factor authentication at institutions that allow it, running incognito windows for financial logins, keeping a separate email account for financial institutions, etc.

What I really posted to say, though, is that Kevin Mitnick advocates your strategy in his book The Art of Invisibility.
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