Thursday, February 3, 2011

Keep Your Computer Protected Part 2: Secure Your Data

I'm back with a few more tips for securing your computer in case of theft.  When my laptop was stolen, the robbers were able to login to my Amazon account and use my stored credit cards to buy all sorts of stuff.  Thankfully I'm broke so only a few of the $300,000 worth of items they ordered actually went through.  Still, I definitely learned my lesson...never again will I use my browser's built-in auto-complete to store passwords or credit card info.
Custom Built Computer - Woodguy32

Password Security
After doing a little research, I found Last Pass which seems to be the favorite of techies.  Last Pass is a free, secure plug-in that stores your passwords, form fill data (name, address, etc.), and credit card info.  All the info you entrust to Last Pass is encrypted locally on your computer so even the folks over at LP can't access your stuff.  You can use Last Pass to sync your auto-fill data across browsers and computers.  Once you have Last Pass installed, you setup a master password that unlocks your info.  You can go to the settings menu and change it so that you have to enter your master password each time you go to a website, after a certain time interval, or after your browser/computer's been logged off. 

For extra security, you can setup one-time passwords for times when you're using an unsecure, public wi-fi like at Starbucks.   Instead of logging into Last Pass with your REAL master password making it vulnerable to would-be hackers trolling around the public networks, you can use a one-time password that you've setup beforehand.  Once used, the password will be deleted so that no one can ever use it....take that hackers! I just wish I'd known about this sooner...I could have protected my passwords and credit card info from those no-good robbers.

Anti-theft Protection
If you're someone who uses your computer in public areas, I'd highly recommend not only buying a laptop lock to secure your laptop to a table, but also downloading Laptop Alarm.  Once active, you can set Laptop Alarm to sound an alarm if someone tries to turn off or unplug your computer.  While not leaving your laptop unattended is always the best anti-theft measure, now you'll at least be able to go grab a napkin with relative protection.

Unless you've got armed guards surrounding your laptop at all times, there's always going to be a chance that your computer can be stolen.  Hopefully you took my previous advice and backed up your hard drive so you at least have a copy of your files somewhere.  Now it's time to protect the files on your computer, in case it falls into the wrong hands.  Apparently LaptopLock can help with that.  Once you create an account, you're pretty much done.  In the event someone steals your computer, login to the LaptopLock website and report it stolen.  You can then choose to either remotely wipe your files from your computer or to simply encrypt them so that they can't be accessed.  If you frequently work in public areas or live in a neighborhood with a high level of break-ins, you should also check out LoJack which offers even more security options and will also work with police to recover your laptop.  Once again, I wish I'd known about this BEFORE my computer was stolen!

Keep safe!

1 comment:

  1. I use Lojack for my laptop. Fortunately I haven't had to use it yet, but it does make me feel better.