Lifehacker recently published the story of developer Nikhil Kodilkar, whose ThinkPad was stolen when a thief broke into his home. It taught him some valuable lessons about protecting data on a computer in the event that it is stolen.
His cautionary tale might save you a lot of worry and money if you follow the lessons he offered. In the article Lifehacker also linked to their guide to encrypting the entire operating system.
There are a number of good reasons to apply these lessons and take the time to follow Lifehacker’s guide. You may think that only people who are in the CIA or military need to protect their hard drives. Maybe a corporate officer with industry secrets would need to do this. But an ordinary Joe or Jane? That’s not important. They don’t have any sensitive data. If you think that you’re seriously wrong.
Most users today will often access their bank account using their computer. If you store your bank password in a program like Lastpass or some other password database, then if a thief gets ahold of the computer they can access the information and get at your money.
Some might retort that they don’t have enough money to worry about it. But with access to such information, the thief could steal your identity and begin opening accounts in your name borrowing hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Sure, you could likely convince those banks that you didn’t do it, but at great time and possibly even legal expense.
Even if someone found or stole your computer and couldn’t get at your financial information, they might be able to get at your social networking accounts and post embarrassing information or pictures that less sophisticated friends and family might not understand can be done and blame you for doing. Employers might see this too and you could lose a job offer because there is a Facebook profile with your name and identifying information talking about embarrassing things that the employer assumes is coming from you.
So, follow the lessons Kodilkar and do the following:
- Password protect your OS
- Hide folders here is a howto showing how it works
- Use Trucrypt, a free encryption program, to protect files, folders or even the whole hard drive
- Use Lifehacker’s guide to encrypting the entire OS
- Get a hard drive that has built-in encryption
- Get a Laptop lock, like the new ClickSafe Laptop Lock
- Get a notebook with built-in encryption like Lenovo or Dell models
- Use Lojack, a software solution that can help recover a lost or stolen computer
- Follow our guide for notebook security by Notebooks.com editor Josh Smith
And finally, never leave your computer unattended in a public place. Even if you ask someone nearby to watch it, they could be a thief or could become distracted not watching as someone else accesses your machine or worse walks off with it.