Over the last two decades, the internet has become all pervasive and has, for the most part, improved and enriched our lives. From on-demand streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify for entertainment, online shopping and banking for convenience, and a multitude of blogs and tutorials for education and information, it’s arguable the biggest game changer of all time. Plus, the examples we’ve mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. For all of the positives, though, there have been drawbacks – chief among which is the emergence and subsequent perseverance of cyber-crime.
For all of the added convenience the internet and personal computing have brought to our lives, they have provided nefarious individuals with a window into them; a means of accessing information that could potentially be used to mimic our identities, to defraud us or to hold our data to ransom. We’re also frequently reminded of these dangers to the point that you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d be a lot safer if you just stopped using the internet altogether. Fortunately, this isn’t necessary. With just a little of your time and an external piece of storage media like a HDD or flash drive, you can all but guarantee that no one will be able to access your sensitive data.
Step 1: Identify sensitive data
Like most people, we’re betting you probably have some important documents stored on your computer. I, for example, had a single document containing my login details for various services, a copy of my CV and electronic versions of various insurance policies on my PC before completing this step.
I’m sure why you can see why I wouldn’t want these documents falling into the wrong hands. The list of usernames and passwords could easily be misused whilst my insurance documentation and CV contained a great deal of information that could be used to steal my identity. In order to successfully undertake this step, you simply need to review the contents of your computer’s hard drive, identify anything that could be used by hackers and, once your confident you’ve done this, you can move onto step 2.
Step 2: Move and delete
Now that you know which files you want to protect, you can move them onto an external device and delete them from your device’s internal storage (remember to delete them completely by emptying your recycle bin/trash can).
Once this has been done, you’ll have created an impenetrable barrier between your vital data and those that would look to exploit it as data that is offline cannot be accessed remotely.