Keep your important laptop data secure
We've all seen the headlines - reports of laptops containing vital state secrets or sensitive data being left on trains, the chaos this can cause and the
retribution it brings down on the luckless owner, especially if they happen to work for a bank. The most obvious answer is to never leave your laptop
on a train. But if the worst happens, how can you ensure that your important data is secure?
Passwords - the weakest link
Leaving aside a momentary lapse in concentration causing you to leave your laptop on the 5.15 from Liverpool Street station, the weakest link in any
data security system is inevitably the passwords that people choose. Although we've all heard it before, having the same password for all your
systems is a technological faux pas of extraordinary proportions. Rather than having to break a series of passwords to gain access to your data, a
hacker only has to find one, and then all of your data is wide open. That can include bank account details, email address books, PayPal account
details, even your Ebay history. So rule #1 is always have different passwords for each data area you wish to protect.
Rule #2 is make sure those passwords are not only secure, but also difficult to decipher. Mother's maiden names, pet names and birthdays are not
secure passwords. A random mix of letters and numbers is usually the best form of password. It may be difficult to remember, but as long as you keep
a (secure!) record of those passwords, it will also be very difficult for anyone else to crack them either.
Encryption - a key component in data protection
If your laptop contains important information that you'd rather didn't become public knowledge, an encryption program is a worthwhile addition. There
are plenty of free encryption programs that can be downloaded from the Internet that offer you a level of protection even if your passwords are
bypassed and a hacker gains access to your computer. Returning to the previous point, remember that a good encryption program will neve