When you think about all the various components and configurations that make up your computer system, you find that the most important is the data you store in it, as it’s the data that creates the catalyst for everything else that you do on the system. Your operating system and all the small programs on it can easily be reinstalled, but the data you create on your system is unique to you and can be lost, for good, if you’re not careful.
Some of this data can be considered sensitive; the kind of data that you not only do not want to lose but don’t want others to access in the process. The loss and exposure of your credit card number, bank account information and social security number can make you the subject of identity theft. The documents of a company’s trade secrets, client and employee details and financial records of the organization are data you do not want falling into the wrong hands.
In this post, I will write about that you can protect that all too important user data
Regularly Back Things Up
One of the most common and important ways of protecting the information on your computer from loss is to back it up on a regular basis. How often should you back up your data? Well, that depends on the amount of data you’re willing to lose in the event of a system crash. An hour, a day, a week or a month’s work.
Microsoft Windows has its own backup tool that you can use to carry out basic backups. To simplify the process, there is a Wizard Mode that you can use. This mode will guide you through the process of creating and restoring backups, in addition to configuring your backup settings and scheduling backup jobs, to be carried out automatically.
There are also many third-party backup programs out there; these tools provide additional levels of sophistication. Whichever program you settle on, it’s important that you create a copy of all your files offsite, which you can call upon, in the event of a fire or tornado or some other kind of natural disaster that could potentially damage your computer system and backup discs.
Use TrueCrypt to Encrypt Your Data
One of the most effective ways for you to secure your data is to encrypt it using a disk encryption utility like TrueCrypt. This tool works on Mac, Linux, and Windows based systems, and allows the end user to encrypt all the data on a partition, flash drive or an entire drive.
Use Dropbox or SecretSync to Synchronise Your Data
Have you ever considered using cloud storage? Maybe you’re hesitant to use it, because of all the risks? Dropbox is one of the leading services for cloud storage. It’s very easy to use and very affordable. However, users of Dropbox do not have access to the encryption keys for their accounts. Dropbox can at any time, decrypt the information that you store on it, and give that data over to the government if at any point they ask. However, as a workaround, you can encrypt your files, using TrueCrypt, before you upload the data to Dropbox. SecretSync, on the other hand, provides all of this, but in an automated format. SecretSync encrypts your files locally before the data is synced to your Dropbox account.
Protect Your Documents with a Password
There are quite a few applications out there, such as Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office that provide the end user with the ability to password protect individual documents. In order for the end user to open the document, they must first enter the password.
The unfortunate thing about Microsoft’s password protection is that it’s not so difficult to crack. There are quite a few programs out there that are designed to recover Microsoft Office passwords. The type of password protection offered by software like this can be considered standard, designed to deter the casual would-be intruder, but can be circumvented quite easily by something who is truly determined to gain access to your data.
There are also the compression utility tools like WinZip and WinRAR that you can use to both encrypt and compress your data.
Delete Data Securely
Part of ensuring all your data is secure is ensuring that deleted data is deleted permanently. For most users, they believe, once they delete a file, it’s gone for good. However, the reality is that all that is deleted is the references to that particular file in the file system table. The file still remains on the computer hard drive, and thus, can be recovered. In order to remove a file permanently, the data must be overwritten with some other data, making it unrecoverable. There are many tools out there that are designed to do just this, they are called wiping software.
I recommend you take some time to look into these particular tools and choose one based on its advantages and disadvantages.