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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Protecting Portable Devices: Data Security

Why do you need another layer of protection?
Although there are ways to physically protect your laptop, PDA or other handheld device (see Protecting Portable Devices: Physical Security for more information), there is no guarantee that it will not be stolen. After all, as the name suggests, portable devices are designed to be easily transported. The theft itself is, at least, frustrating, uncomfortable and disconcerting, but the exposure of information on the device could have serious consequences. Also, remember that all devices connected to the Internet, especially if it is a wireless connection, are also susceptible to network attacks (see Securing Wireless Networks for more information).

What can be done?
Use passwords correctly - In the process of getting to the information on your mobile device, you will likely find several requests for passwords. Take advantage of this security. Do not choose options that allow your computer to remember your passwords, do not choose passwords that thieves could easily guess, use different passwords for different programs, and take advantage of additional authentication methods (see Selecting and password protection and supplement passwords for more information).
Consider storing important data separately - There are many forms of storage media, such as CDs, DVDs and removable flash drives (also known as thumb drives or USB keys). When you save your data on removable media and keep it in a different place (for example, in your suitcase instead of your laptop bag), you can protect your data even if your laptop is stolen. You should make sure the location where you store your data for easy access. It may be helpful to bring the storage media with other valuables that you keep with you at all times and that naturally protect, such as a wallet or keys.
You encrypt files - By encrypting files, you ensure that unauthorized people can not view data even if you have physical access. You may also want to consider the options for full disk encryption, which prevents a thief from even starting your laptop without a passphrase. When encryption is used, it is important to remember your passwords and passphrases; if you forget or lose them, you may lose your data.
Install and maintain anti-virus software - Protect laptops and PDAs from viruses in the same way to protect their desktop computers. Be sure to keep virus definitions up to date (see Understanding Anti-Virus Software for more information). If your anti-virus software does not include anti-spyware software, consider installing additional software to protect against this threat (see Recognizing and avoiding spyware and Coordinating Virus and Spyware Defense for more information).
Install and maintain a firewall - While it is always important to restrict incoming and outgoing traffic of your computer, firewalls are especially important if you are traveling and using different networks. The firewall can help prevent outsiders from unwanted access (see Understanding Firewalls for more information).
Backup your data - Make sure to backup the data on your computer that has a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or network (see good safety habits and warnings real world stay safe online for more information) . This will not only ensure that you will continue to have access to information if the device is stolen, but could help identify exactly what information a thief may be able to access. You may be able to take steps to reduce the amount of damage that exposure could cause.

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