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How to keep confidential documents private RRS feed

  • Question

  •  

    I have Windows Vista Home Premium on my HP laptop which is for home use but we keep confidential information on it.

    How can I maintain the privacy of those documents.

    HP support tell me that there is nothing built into the system which I can use and have suggested that I should get 3rd Party Software but the internet is a minefield ( there are so many dodgy products out there ) and earlier this year I got a serious virus problem by downloading a Privacy Software utility and am hesitant of going down that road again.

    As I have limited technical knowledge but am improving I need something user friendly but effective.

    Monday, September 8, 2008 6:24 AM

Answers

  • 1. Use the Vista Firewall

    2. Install an anti-virus like Nod32 or Kaspersky

    3. Install an anti-spyware application and scan with it every week. Try malwarebytes: http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php

    4. Don't install any other security application. you don't need any other one

    5. Keep Windows updated

    6. Use Vista's backup and restore center to backup your important files to a removable HDD. Keep the Hdd safe

    7. Run as a standard user and use a password

    8. Stay off porn sites and file sharing sites

    9. Don't believe emails that seem to be too good to be true. They really are. 

     

    That's it.

    Monday, September 8, 2008 6:37 PM

All replies

  • 1. Use the Vista Firewall

    2. Install an anti-virus like Nod32 or Kaspersky

    3. Install an anti-spyware application and scan with it every week. Try malwarebytes: http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php

    4. Don't install any other security application. you don't need any other one

    5. Keep Windows updated

    6. Use Vista's backup and restore center to backup your important files to a removable HDD. Keep the Hdd safe

    7. Run as a standard user and use a password

    8. Stay off porn sites and file sharing sites

    9. Don't believe emails that seem to be too good to be true. They really are. 

     

    That's it.

    Monday, September 8, 2008 6:37 PM
  •  Keitha66 wrote:

     

    I have Windows Vista Home Premium on my HP laptop which is for home use but we keep confidential information on it.

    How can I maintain the privacy of those documents.

    HP support tell me that there is nothing built into the system which I can use and have suggested that I should get 3rd Party Software but the internet is a minefield ( there are so many dodgy products out there ) and earlier this year I got a serious virus problem by downloading a Privacy Software utility and am hesitant of going down that road again.

    As I have limited technical knowledge but am improving I need something user friendly but effective.

     

    Performing the steps listed in the reply previous to mine will get you pretty much squared away for having a "clean" computer. However, none of those steps prevents anyone from walking into your house, taking your laptop, and looking at all your files at their leisure.

     

    If you want to prevent anyone with Physical access (meaning they can physically "touch" the computer) from accessing your private data, there is only one tried-n-true method; Encryption.

     

    Encryption can be performed using PGP (which you can download different versions on the internet) or you can buy and use something like a USB "Key" that will UNencrypt the files and allow you to access them ONLY if you have the key plugged in the computer (these can be very expensive! and, if you lose it, you're hosed)

     

    The method I prefer is to grab a copy of Winzip. Plain old Winzip. What you do is use Winzip to zip up the file or files you want to keep confidential then, using Winzip, encrypt the zip file (using the option for 256bit AES encryption) using a password or short phrase you are sure to remember.

     

    A simple but effective password can be the following:

     

    Your SSN and your Birthdate as one series of numbers (224659832031780 for example)

     

    Then, use the Scientific view of Windows Calculator, convert that large Decimal number to a password that has letters and numbers so it's harder to crack. The entry above, which is easy for you to remember, looks like CC53B17BCA24 as Hexadecimal and you'll never "forget" it because if you do, you simply enter your SSN and Birthdate into the scientific view of Calculator again and click the Hex button.

     

    If you want to get seriously paranoid, change some of the letters to lowercase and now you have a seriously strong password you'll always remember (or be able to recall using the method above)

     

    Monday, September 8, 2008 8:58 PM
  • Oh, we were making the assumption that the Pc is not phisycaly safe?

    Then I can only remind you Law 3 of the 10 Immutable Laws of Security:

    "Law #3: If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it's not your computer anymore"


    If someone can get a hold of your computer it's only a matter of WHEN your data will get read, not IF. And believe me, if someone makes plans to break into your house just to steal the data from your laptop they will be prepared Smile

    Monday, September 8, 2008 9:19 PM
  •  

    Thanks for your advice YounGun, 

    With regard to the points

    1. I do use Vista Firewall
    2. I use AVG 8 Antivirus
    3. I scan regularly with PC Tools Spy Doctor but will look at Malarebytes
    4. Apart from Windows Defender I have nothing else.
    5. I get automatic updates
    6. I use Vista Back Up and restore to a portable  external Hard Drive
    7. I have been running as Administrator not standard  - I will take your advice but so that I can learn can you tell me why this helps
    8. Neither I or members of the family who use the computer would go on porn sites.I don't know what a file sharing site is - can you tell me so I know what to avoid .
    9. I zap any emails from people or firms I don't know and trust.

    Regards,

    Keith

    Thursday, September 11, 2008 7:52 AM
  • Thanks for the advice Mandark,

     

    I will take a look at Winzip.

    Also I will take a look at the scientific side of Windows Calculator regarding a password calculation.

    I don't expect to keep out the "Professionals " if they get hold of my machine for any length of time but I want to keep the confidential data safe in the short term from prying eyes etc.

     

    Regards,

     

    Keitha66

     

    Thursday, September 11, 2008 8:15 AM
  • Hi,

    You are a model home user Keith, if everyone would follow your example, the Internet would be a better place.

    7 - Without going into technical depth, you need to know that the standard user can only access few areas of the system, having full access only in his home folder. That means that if your standard user gets compromised the malware can only spread to the locations where that user has write access to. If your administrator account gets compromised, the malware can spread in all the system, the administrator having full access to sensitive areas of the operating system. So you should use your standard account for day-to-day things, and switch to the administrator username when you need to do admin stuff (install/uninstall applications, drivers etc..)

    8 - A file sharing site is a place where people download copyrighted material (music, movies,software)

    9 - The firms you trust can be immitated by the phishing mails so be careful. It's generally best to start off with a "i don't trust any email" policy and then start working your way from that.
    Thursday, September 11, 2008 8:22 AM