We have all seen the headlines – reviews of laptops that contain vital state secrets or sensitive data being left on trains and the chaos this could cause as well as the retribution it brings on the unlucky owner. Probably the most apparent response is never to leave your laptop on the train. But when the worst happens, how will you make sure that your valuable information is secure?
Passwords – the poorest link
Besides a momentary lapse leading you to leave your laptop on the 5.15 Liverpool Street station, the weakest link in a data home security system is the passwords that individuals choose. Although we have all heard it before, getting the same password for your systems is a technological faux pas of remarkable proportions. Instead of needing to break some passwords to gain access to your computer data, a hacker only needs to locate one, after which all your information is available. That may include banking account particulars, current email address books, PayPal account details, even your eBay history. So rule #1 is to have different passwords for every data area you want to safeguard.
Rule #2 is making certain individuals passwords are not only secure but also hard to decipher. Mother’s maiden names, pet names and birthday celebrations aren’t secure passwords. A random mixture of letters and figures is often the best type of password. It might be hard to remember, but as long as you keep a (secure!) record of individuals passwords, it will be tough for other people to hack them.
File encryption – an essential component in data protection
In case your laptop consists of information that you would not want to become public, a file encryption program is a useful addition. You will find lots of free data encryption programs that are obtainable from the web that provides you with a level of protection even when your passwords are breached, and a hacker gains access to your computer. Coming back to the previous point, keep in mind that a great file encryption program won’t ever make amends for a poor password. However, it will slow the average hacker down.
Programs, for example, TrueCrypt is made to create an encoded drive, where one can store sensitive data. But don’t forget to maintain the password for your encoded files safe, because without that password, you won’t have the ability to access the information. Theoretically, all data encryption could be compromised (an ‘un-hackable’ file encryption program has not yet been produced), but getting some file encryption on sensitive information is an improvement over nothing whatsoever. File encryption programs also often slow down the machine’s operation, which may be annoying for many customers – but not as annoying as getting their data stolen…
Probably the most modern laptops have built-in biometrics as an additional layer of security. The laptop is only accessible if your recognized fingerprint is placed over the biometrics reader. They are state-of-the-art technology features but could be sporadic. Keep in mind that when your biometrics is encoded with your fingerprint, nobody may use that computer, so they provide a significant degree of protection for the average user. You may have to swipe your finger more than once to access the laptop though!
Back up regularly
Well worth the cost is an external hard disk, on which you’ll back up your laptop files regularly, keeping an extra copy of individual files in case anything happens to your notebook. You should keep backup files saved unencrypted to ensure that they’ll be readily available should you have to reinstall them into another computer.
If you wish to keep the laptop data truly secure, make certain that the laptop isn’t from your sight, that the passwords are as strong as they can be, where you incorporate file encryption, biometrics along with a regular backup of your daily laptop routine.