ion microPC for more secure computing

The Intel® Compute Card changes the way that “PCs” are used and thought about.
This entry is the second post in a series of three on the ion Server Blog which will explore some of the possibilities of ion‘s microPC. Consider a user who wants a more secure computer for online shopping and banking and a more general purpose computer for everything else.  ion‘s microPC offers a convenient new way to achieve that.

ION microPC based on Intel Compute Card
The Compute Card is a tiny PC which includes processor, RAM, storage, WiFI and Bluetooth in a tiny package slightly longer than a credit card, 5mm thick and weighing 44.5g or less than 2 ounces. ion offers the range of Intel Compute Cards in its microPC family. Current choices include models based on Intel® Celeron® processor, Intel® Pentium® Processor, Intel® Core m3 processor and Intel® Core i5 processor. All models include 4GB RAM and storage is either 64GB or 128GB of solid state storage.

The United States Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation suggests “Consider using a separate computer solely for online banking or shopping. A growing number of people are purchasing basic PCs and using them only for banking online and not Web browsing, emailing, social networking, playing games or other activities that are more susceptible to malicious software — known generally as “malware” — that can access computers and steal information.” See the full post at fdic.gov.

That seems like a great idea until you start thinking about where to put that secure computer and the stuff hooked up to it and then finding another place for the regular PC. Rather than moving and connecting keyboard and mouse and monitor and whatever, over and over, you probably end up with all of that for each. Or, instead, you choose a microPC approach with a monitor and keybord and mouse connected to the dock and pick one basic PC for secure use and another PC, which might be more powerful, for everything else.

For banking or shopping with credit cards online, the more secure microPC gets inserted and booted. That probably just needs a browser and doesn’t need to support games or streaming media so it can be a bssic, entry-level microPC. A quick search on-line may convince you that Linux provides a more secure basis for that kind of activity.  Windows 10 would be fine for this more secure microPC, too, but if you are going to boot, login and open a web browser, that works just about the same in Linux. When banking and shopping have been completed, that microPC gets shut down and ejected leaving no way for it to be compromised while it is not in use.ION microPC and Dock

When it is time for email or web browsing or casual gaming or social media – the kinds of things that open vectors for malware – the other microPC gets inserted and booted. That can be loaded with the operating system of choice and applications added as needed. While this computer shares a display and a network connection and keyboard and mouse with the more secure computer, none of those allows malware to move from one microPC to the other, like the kind of malware that wants your credit card numbers and personal details.

Computer health is a lot like personal health – it usually depends much more on user behavior than on what you started out with.  Neither ion Computer Systems nor the FDIC can be responsible for your on-line security, but this approach of dedicating a microPC for secure online use might be a good start.

Read the rest of the series:

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