Computer Security Tips –
Hard Disk File System Security
Hard Disk File System Security
- Do not store private information on your computer in unencrypted form. Reasoning: If your computer is hacked into, or stolen, your private information could be used by criminals to steal money from your bank accounts or credit cards, impersonate you to obtain bank loans or sell your house, etc.
- Microsoft Word has built-in encryption, so use it! (See the “Save As” menu.)
- N.B. The default encryption strength is deliberately set quite low for backward compatibility with older versions of Word. i.e. If you send an encrypted document to a friend who is using an older version of Word, they will still be able to open it (assuming they know the password) since your newer version of Word will use the older (and weaker) encryption level by default. If on the other hand you never intend to give a certain document to someone else, then you should explicitly choose the highest level of encryption when saving the document to disk. (See the following web page for a Registry hack to permanently change the default encryption strength of new Microsoft Office encrypted files: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/ork2003/HA011403111033.aspx)
- Microsoft Excel has built-in encryption, so use it! (See the “Save As” menu.)
- N.B. As with Microsoft Word above, the default encryption strength is deliberately set quite low for backward compatibility with older versions of Excel. Read the notes for MS Word above and seriously consider making the registry change. The registry change will affect all new files created with MS Word and MS Excel.
- WinZip has built-in encryption – use it!
- To be super-safe: Avoid storing private information on your computer even in encrypted form!
- If your computer has Encrypted File System (EFS) functionality (like Windows XP Pro does for example), switch it on for all folders containing your personal files. N.B. Don’t switch in on for System folders though or else some programs will stop working properly.
- Hard disks sometimes get erased or modified by viruses or malware. Hard disks also wear out. Sometimes you may accidentally erase an important file yourself. Therefore, you should back-up important files from you hard disks at regular intervals. The easiest way to do this is to create a Zip copy of the files or folders and then copy the Zip archive to a writable CD or DVD. There are also various free and paid software packages that will help you backup your hard disks.
- If you have files that you absolutely cannot afford to lose, keep some of your backups off-site, e.g. keep some of your work backups at home, and some of your home backups at work. Reasoning: If your house burns down or gets burgled while you’re at work, having some of your home backups at work will mean that you wont lose those files.
- Hard disks wear out due to internal rusting and simple old age but they do have a level of built-in redundancy. On a Windows computer, running Check Disk (chkdsk) on your hard disk once every 6-12 months will dramatically lower the chance of having a catastrophic disk failure (e.g. due to a bad sector). The Check Disk program detects sectors which are starting to fail and moves the data to other sectors. To run Check Disk, in Explorer right-click on the hard disk you want to check, choose Properties, click the Tools tab, then under Error-checking click the Check Now button.
|Copyright © 2009 Andrew White||Created: 12 Aug 2009|
|Page authored by Andrew White||Updated: 18 Jan 2013|
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