Yesterday I came home to discover that someone had been through my flat and made off with my household laptops and assorted shiny things. This is never a pleasant experience, and always hassle to sort out with Police, Locksmiths and so on.
While shiny things often have sentimental value, it ultimately is just stuff, and stuff can be insured and replaced. However the laptops contained that most valuable of modern commodities – data, lots of it, most very personal. What had I done to protect it? Nothing. My very, very bad. My backup routines were flaky and none of the data was encrypted, so whilst I have changed every password I can think of my data on the machine is still vulnerable. Consequently I am at severe risk of ID Theft and can only hope that the people who end up with our laptops just wipe them and don’t try and use the data on there for malicious purposes.
I was slack because I thought our machines were safe at home and we lived in a safe neighbourhood, but like any assumption it was flawed. So if you own a laptop / pc on which you store data you don’t want falling into other people’s hands, I strongly advise you to do the following now.
- Make sure your machine is password protected – even for screensavers. If you leave your machine idle when you aren’t at home, make sure it will lock itself if you forget to do it manually.
- Encrypt your personal data – which is a built in feature of Xp/Vista/7 – and so simple i’m really kicking myself for not doing this
- Backup your data – preferably on a discreetly located wireless NAS, which should come with software to make this a breeze. Maybe even use LiveMesh at a push.
- Track your laptop – there are various bits of free and paid for software that will report its location, take snaps with the webcam and report it to a web server so you have some chance of recovery.
So now i’m down to outdated backups, lost data, and having to be wary about alot of my financial activities for a long, long time because of my carelessness. Allow me to be the lesson you learn from.
An Irked BI Monkey.