Whether it is sensitive information about your business, family photos or school projects, you want to keep the information safe. Today, there are several threats to that information. Some are innocent threats while others are malicious. The four main risks are outlined below:
- Unauthorized access- Anyone seeing what they should not. It can lead to unsolicited scrutiny, theft of trade secrets or even blackmail.
- Damage- If the PC crashes because of a faulty hard drive, malware attack or natural disaster, all files could be irreparably damaged.
- Loss- Someone might inadvertently delete files, or a malicious person can delete the files. Ransomware attacks also lead to loss of files if the ransom is not paid. System crashes can also lead to loss of files.
- Alteration- Files can be altered by people or malware.
How can you secure personal files from all these threats? Well, here are five things you can do:
- Backup files
- Update PC
- Install Anti-malware
- Encrypt Files
- Separate user accounts
To backup simply means to keep a copy of files in another place. If anything happens to your PC, you can retrieve the copy from the alternative storage. There are two main types of backup; online and offline.
This is often referred to as cloud backup. You can store important files in your cloud account. Some vendors that provide cloud services include Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Carbonite, and Box, among many others.
The advantages of cloud backup include:
- Easy retrieval of information from anywhere in the world with any computer.
- Easy to perform, it requires no technical knowledge.
A vulnerability of cloud storage is that they can be hit by hackers. Hackers can steal individual user passwords through phishing attacks or target the cloud companies that have flawed security.
Keep the cloud account safe by using strong, unique passwords that are not used on any other sites. Then keep all passwords secret.
Again, there are various ways of backing up data locally. The first and most basic is to create a local backup partition in the PC. Alternatively, copy the important information to external storage devices such as flash disks.
Offline backup allows access to files even without internet connection. However, if the backup storage and the PC are in the same building and it burns, all information can be lost.
2. Update PC
Updates fix bugs and enhance the smooth operation of the PC. A secure software today can become vulnerable or incompatible tomorrow, so software companies keep updating their products to ensure your PC remains secure and operates well.
Updates can also speed up the computer and fix compatibility issues. This prevents crashing of programs and the computer.
Since updates protect the consumers from the above vulnerabilities, ensure all drivers, software and operating system are always updated.
Set the PC to automatically check for updates whenever you have an internet connection and install updates as soon as they become available.
Remember the Wannacry attack in 2017? All the affected computers had failed to install a windows update that would have fixed the vulnerability.
3. Install Anti-malware
If you use the internet you are exposed to malware a lot. Even offline, malware spreads through file sharing devices like flash drives. Malware can do a lot of nasty things to files like copy and send, alter, or delete. They can also lock files and ask for ransom, like the aforementioned Wannacry attack in 2017.
Some types of malware can also steal all passwords and access files backed up in cloud. Malware forms the greatest threat to the safety of important information. Install a powerful anti-malware package that offers comprehensive security to keep malware out of your system.
4. Encrypt Files
Encrypting files means locking them up with a secret key so that no one can open them unless you allow access. This method works because even if someone sees the file, they cannot open it without the key.
Encrypted files cannot be altered or deleted by someone who has no access. You can encrypt files on Windows using the BitLocker Encryption feature or buy other third-party encryption applications.
5. Separate User Accounts
Sometimes, you might share a computer with friends or family. Consider restricting access to protect personal files from unwanted scrutiny and manipulation. Set up guest accounts that lack administrative privileges.
Guest accounts also reduce the risk of malware, but they do not offer a comprehensive defense.
Each method is effective to a degree. To keep files as secure as possible, you might need to apply most, if not all of the above measures together.
Finally, user habits have a large role to play in ensuring the safety of files. This means avoiding high-risk websites like those that offer free downloads, and high-risk areas in your hometown where mugging is rife.
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