Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tips for Protecting your Laptop Data

Tips for Protecting your Laptop Data

Recently, I learned the hard way that it's important to protect your laptop. When a virus wiped out my hard drive, I lost Word documents, work information, personal pictures and videos...well, the list is endless. But even then, I know it could have been much worse. What if my laptop had been stolen or being as forgetful as I am, I left it unattended somewhere? What if someone had hacked into my information? I use my laptop for everything from shopping to paying bills to keeping up with my bank accounts and it would be so easy for someone to steal my identity or gain access to confidential information.

Almost 12,000 laptops are lost each week - yes, week - in United States airports and only about 30% are ever returned to their owners. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to protect your data from the wrong people.

1. Passwords - Both your admin account and the user account should have a unique password, and some laptops allow you to set a boot password in BIOS (this one should be unique from your Windows passwords). These won't keep hard-core criminals out of your data, but they will deter your every day busybody. In both the BIOS and your user account, you can make your settings so that if someone enters the wrong password X amount of times, they get locked out of the account. And of course, don't easily guessed passwords.

2. Fingerprint Recognition - Lots of laptops come with fingerprint scanners these days and it's in your best interest to take advantage of them. It only takes a few minutes to scan each of your fingers into the system. Again, a criminal with extensive knowledge is not going to let fingerprint scans stop him, but the average person won't be able to access your data.

3. Encryption - Encryption is the best way to keep your data under wraps. You can move the drive to a new system and it is still encrypted, making it almost impossible for someone to access your data without access to your key. There are several programs you can use to encrypt your hard drive. These include: BitLocker Drive Encryption and TrueCrypt.

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