This is a guest post by Nathan Morgan. If you are interested to guest post in this blog, just head over to the Guest Post Guidelines.
Since we can’t really predict the future (yet), it’s absolutely crucial to ensure the security of your data as early as possible, before you end up regretting it. The inspiration for this post actually came from a personal experience, so I’m hoping that we can both learn from my mistakes here.
The year was 2009 and I’d just finished my degree. Rather than dive right in to employment, it seemed like a great idea to spend the next 6 months travelling and getting to see the wonderful scenery from the Discovery Channel up close. I picked up a shiny new digital camera, grabbed my laptop, and I was off.
The first stop was Spain, which is an absolutely incredible country, but something was a bit wrong one night. After coming home to find my door slightly open, I naturally started fearing the worst and expected to find my passport, laptop and everything valuable gone with the wind. Once I’d calmed down and found my passport was actually in my pocket, my worst fears were confirmed. It was all gone. Pictures of me with my ex-girlfriend. That book I’d written and promised myself I’d release one day. My financial documents. Everything was gone.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been robbed personally, but the feeling of despair is absolutely unbearable. The chances of me getting everything back were slim at best, and to top it all off? I didn’t have a password because it felt like it took too long to log in and do what I needed. It’s 2012 now, and I stay feel a nagging loss when I think of all of the things I’d never managed to recover.
What’s more important than that story, though, is how to learn from this experience so if it ever happens again I can minimise the disruption. When I got home I sat down and thought about all of the things I could have done differently and made myself a little checklist of things to do when I finally managed to buy a new laptop:
Mirror all important files to the cloud
I’d like you to think of a teacher. A teacher will eventually retire, so it’s up to them to spread their information to as many people as possible to ensure that if anything happens to them, several other people have the knowledge to keep the human race ticking. When you upload a file to Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive or any of the cloud services, it’s saved on several hard drives (which are all accessible by you), meaning that even if one hard drive dies, the files will remain available forever.
Use a strong password
This is the most simplistic thing I could have done. Using a password makes such a huge difference and takes virtually zero effort on your part. In all honesty, anything is better than nothing, but “password”, “hello” or the name of your first born child probably won’t fool many people, so it’s a good idea to pick the last thing anybody would think of. Better still, pick two things, make a portmanteau from them, and add a random number in there somewhere.
Encrypt your hard drive
Sensitive data should be treated as such. Encryption may seem pretty extreme, but it stops someone taking your hard drive out and picking over your files with a fine-toothed comb. Windows 7 comes with the option, but I went with the TrueCrypt application, which is free. It creates a virtual encrypted volume on your hard drive that can be made invisible to everyone else. What better way to protect your files than pretending they don’t exist?
Just as you shouldn’t ignore the safety as your home, paying attention to the security of your data now prevents that dreaded call to a disaster recovery solutions company if you’re unfortunate enough to lose some sensitive data.
About the Author: Nathan Morgan has been a IT professional for 9 Years his work is currently focused on Linux servers, he is experienced in methods of encryption including TrueCrypt and other alternatives, he has a great depth of knowledge in disaster recovery solutions including both off line and digital data.