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Thursday, 15 November 2018

Thursday, 15 Nov 2018

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Whitwick & District U3A - Computing tip April 2015

This month we continue the theme of security by looking at portable devices; laptops specifically, but many of the principles can also be applied to tablets and smartphones.

What would happen if your laptop (or tablet or phone) were to be lost or stolen? Obviously there is the cost of the item itself, and that may be covered by insurance, but what about the potential disruption and the exposure of your (and other people’s?) personal data.

There are two parts to this, both are important. The first (and hopefully obvious) point is that it is important to back-up your data regularly. This can be done to the cloud e.g. Microsoft’s OneDrive or to an external hard disk or a USB memory stick. This means that you are not going to be deprived of the information.

The second part is to stop someone else getting at your data, which may help them with identity theft, setting up scams against everyone in your email address book etc. The most elementary precaution is to ensure that you have set a password for logging in, and that it is a reasonable one (Don’t use ‘Password’ or ‘Pa55w0rd’ for example). This is an important step but a thief could still read the data on your hard disk if he removes the disk from the laptop or boots from a USB device.

To protect against the latter requires that the disk is encrypted. The good news is that if you have a modern laptop with Windows 8.1 and are using a Microsoft Account to log in then encryption will be enabled automatically. Note this does not apply to machines that were upgraded from Windows 8, but you may be able to enable encryption. Machines with Windows 7 Ultimate, or Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8.1 Pro can make use of ‘BitLocker’, but need to set it up.

The alternative, if none of the above apply, as is probably the case for a number of people, is to use some other encryption software of which the most popular is still ‘TrueCrypt’. Note that you should use v7.1a not v7.2

In these short tip articles there is not space to explain how to set these things up, but the two links below are a good starting point.

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows7/products/features/bitlocker

https://www.grc.com/misc/truecrypt/truecrypt.htm

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