Internet Survival Skills 103 - CIA
Using the same principles that large enterprises use, a few simple measures can keep your home systems productive and safe.
To some extent, we all have personal data on our computers that could be exposed to a third party. Bank information, credit card numbers, social security numbers and other data could put us at risk of identity theft, fraud or other malicious activity. Web caches, tax software, email and other files are a target rich environment for thieves. A lost laptop or handheld has less than a 2% chance of being recovered. Spyware, worms and viruses can turn a desktop into an information broadcasting system for your personal information. If you use your computer for business you could be liable for the leakage of your clients or employer’s data.
Keep your system patched up. Use a firewall. Install and keep anti-virus and anti-spyware software up-to-date. Use common sense when surfing. Use strong passwords for you online accounts and change them often. Check your banking and credit accounts often for unauthorized activity.
Beware of “phishing” scams and other social engineering techniques that could expose your personal information.
Your hard drive is going to fail. It is not a matter of IF it will fail, the only question is WHEN.
Malicious or poorly written software, user error, viruses and other problems can destroy or modify data. Losing the draft of your next best-seller, that Neiman Marcus cookie recipe you paid $200 for or you only picture of your child's first steps can be annoying at best. Losing other data can cost you time and money. Zip drives, USB flash drives, CD's and other removable storage devices offer quick and inexpensive means to make a copy of your files. Try to organize you data so that the process is easier for you. Keep your backups in a different place than your computer so that if it is lost, stolen or destroyed your backups don't meet the same fate.
Your data isn't worth much if you can't get to it. Keep the media your software came on in a safe place so that proprietary data can be accessed. Use strong passwords but construct them in a way you can remember without writing them on a post-it note on your monitor. Losing the password to an encrypted file often means losing the file. Keeping your computer up to date means it will work when you need it. Making backups means you can work when your computer won't.
Frank Boffey, CISSP
RE FormsNet, LLC