Protect Your Personal Data on Your PC

We are constantly worried about the kind of safety and security of our lives. We change our home alarm systems, install some of the latest motion sensing lights and cameras to prevent unnecessary action, and buy the kind of cars that could withstand a hail of bullets. However, we tend to be a lot more careless when it comes to picking the security features that we want for our computers.

We use our computers for two main reasons – the first is to access the Internet, do our work, play games, watch videos, download movies and so on. The other, is for storing away our personal information safely. It is a natural tendency to believe that because something is not physically outside or kept out in the open, it is safer than something that is. However, with the kind of credit card, social security, passport, bank and personal information that we keep on our computers, we stand to lose quite a bit when it comes to data theft.

Put Things Away

One of the most important ways of keeping your possessions safe is to hide them. In your home, you don’t have money lying around all over the place, and jewelry isn’t just strewn about either. So why would you put your electronic treasures into a disorganized pile and leave it lying around your computer? Despite owning the best security system on the planet, you would still put your valuables inside and that is the same kind of thinking that you need to use on your computer.

Lock up your data with the assumption that anyone, at some point of time, can come in to take a peek into your terminal, steal something that belongs to you and leaves you footing a bill for a little boat that’s taking him out to the beautiful Greek Isles. Financial documents, on Excel sheets, can be saved with a password to protect them, as is the case with Word, PDF files and even PowerPoint presentations. Basically, any kind of software that gives you the ability to encrypt your document, must be put to complete use. Use something like the identity finder to locate any user-specific, or personal, data that you might have on your computer. It will help you track it down and put them under lock and key – the only way to add more security levels on your computer.

Don’t Recycle

If you are looking to delete items from your computer, which basically means that you have no use for them, then why use the recycle bin? Think about it – do you throw cheques, with mistakes, into the trash can like they are? No, you tear them up so that no one can use them. At work, do you dispose official documents off by throwing them into a bin? No, you pass them through a shredder that eats them up. Then why should your computer be any different?

When you delete a file on any operating system, it takes the file to the recycle bin (in Windows) or any other similar software that works as a trash bin. The concept they are using is that when you use the trash bin at your home, you empty it out later. However, we don’t always remember to do that, on the computer, because there are a lot more distractions and unlike physical trash, this kind doesn’t smell. Data that, otherwise, would be thrown away, lingers on in our computers and gives others an opportunity to take it away.

There are many software out there that can do this part for you, shredding away your files safely and not leaving behind any traces for those forensic data-thieves to steal. Some of these software overwrite data before sending it for deletion, and that overwrite-count can go up to 30 even. Once is enough to make them irrecoverable forever!

Encryption

Think of it like a car alarm! If your car has an alarm, then the thief will take longer to break-in than in a car without the alarm. Similarly, a car with an alarm and a steering lock would take even longer to break into while something that has a gear lock as well, would take further still. Basically, the more protection you have in place, the harder it gets for your car to get stolen. Trojans, that grab data on your computer, are quite similar in nature.

They will grab what’s available freely and if you aren’t being targeted directly, then even the most basic encryption will cause a lot of heartache for the helpless Trojan. Encrypt the file into a zipped format and remove the original from your computer, if you really need to keep the information i.e.

Whether you are running a business or simply using your computer for personal reasons, there are lots of things on it, at any given point of time, that are precious for your daily life. You need to safeguard these things to ensure that you aren’t the victim of the next massive online credit card fraud.

Trevor Patrick – author

When you think of computers and the computer support services’ industry, the name of Trevor Patrick is almost unavoidable. Having started a small firm with a small service, of ensuring your computer’s security, Trevor eventually created a monster that became the life and blood of computer users all over Australia and New Zealand. His word became gold and his services were beyond par! That until he decided to sell off his company and take to farming and an early retirement in the countryside. Trevor still writes on computer-related subjects today, although more for the love of the game, than for the money.