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#33: Keeping Your Computer Data Secure

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I keep a lot of client confidential data on my laptop. I am not so much worried about someone hacking into it online as much as I am leaving the machine somewhere. Do you have some tips for keeping data secure?

We all cringe when we hear stories of someone leaving their laptop in a taxi or coming back to a conference room from lunch ("don't worry, your laptop is safe here") to find it missing. You can certainly use a password to start your operating system or encrypt your sensitive data folder or your whole drive. However, these techniques reduce performance and often are abandoned because of their inconvenience. More elaborate and potentially more effective security methods are available, such as biometric devices (facial recognition through your webcam is an interesting one, smart cards, or fingerprint recognition).

An alternative is to not keep any data you can't afford to lose on your laptop at all. If the impact of losing control of your machine is sufficiently great, you can keep confidential data on a machine in your office and access these data remotely using a service like GoToMyPc.

Tip: Probably the first strategy is to reduce the risk of losing your data is to minimize how much is exposed to loss. Know which data are confidential and only store on your laptop those data that are essential to your work for a work session. Remove these data from your laptop when you return to your office. At a minimum, set your screensaver to activate after a short period of time of inactivity and require a password to get back to your desktop. Bottom line: to keep your client data safe, you will have to pay for it and be somewhat inconvenienced.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  confidentiality  security 

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Steve Sanderson says...
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Some other options would be to use an offsite backup utility in case you lose your laptop and to store critical data on something like Sharepoint so it is never stored on the laptop at all.
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