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Here are "Seven Steps to Lock Down Your PC" - some easy-to-implement methods that provide a "multi-layered defense" to keep your data safe from prying eyes. Some of them I've described in my "AA 12-Step Plan" on my website, which you can read at your leisure.

Click to see full-size1. Use a boot password. If you click on this thumbnail, in the photo you'll see that I've installed a User Password, Supervisor Password, and HDD Password on my computer. A menu similar to this will appear if you press the Function-Key to bring up the "Boot Menu" when your PC starts up. On my computer it's F2, but on other brands it might be F8 or another key - look at the bottom of the screen when you turn on your computer, or see your PC instruction manual. Setting these passwords (I use the same password for all three settings) will require the user to enter the correct password before Windows even boots up. This way, a thief or nosey person can't get at the data on your hard drive, even if they use a DVD or a flash drive to boot from Linux. An average fifth-grader with a little curiousity is smart enough to search the Internet and find out how to burn a Linux boot disk, which will ignore your Windows passwords and make your files accessible. Be smarter than a fifth-grader!

2. Use a separate administrator account and password only for admin work. Many PC dealers, if they even bother to set up your PC when you buy it, will simply ask your name and create just one account on your Windows PC. At least one account must have administrator privileges, so this is the admin account. The danger here is that if you're logged in as admin, any malware can then plant itself into your operating system or even your boot sector, and take over your whole computer. So you should separate the admin functions by creating a regular user account, move your files into that account, and use that regular user account for day-to-day work.

About the time we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends. - Herbert Hoover

3. Use a password vault with the regular user password as the master password. I recommend KeePass - see the "AA 12-Step Plan" on my website. You can store your admin password and all other passwords that you use for online banking, eBay, Amazon.com: anything that stores your financial or private information. KeePass will generate a random password consiting of a jumble of numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and special characters. Then it lets you "drag-and-drop" the password into the website's password field - this keeps it safe from keyloggers. Using your regular user password here and in points 4, 5 and 6 keeps your information secure even if you must give your admin password to someone servicing your PC.

4. Use an encrypted flash drive with the regular user password. Several free programs will encrypt flash drives, but I recommend "SafeHouse Explorer" because you don't need to login as administrator to use it from your flash drive. This way, you can plug your flash drive into any computer - even at an Internet cafe - and run programs or access your files.

5. Use AxCrypt to encrypt confidential files. This free program lets you right-click on a file, select "Axcrypt" from the pop-up menu and enter a password to encrypt it, replacing the original file extension with "axx." Later, when you want to open the file and work with your information, just double-click on the file and enter the password: this will decrypt it; and when you close the file, it's automatically encrypted again. Then you should frequently use a program like CCleaner to completely delete all traces of "ghost" images of your temporarily unencrypted files that MS Word or other programs save to your hard disk while you are using those programs.

Click on Online PC Support for our worldwide help   &   Offsite Backup Services for securing your files!

6. Use offsite backups. Why do I keep preaching this? Because over 90% of PC users are too busy (or lazy) to regularly backup their files. Files get deleted by mistake. Accidents happen. Theft happens. Disasters happen. Use offsite backups - don't put it off any longer!

7. Use SSL encryption for all your email. Non-SSL email can be read by anyone that snoops on Internet traffic - it's like mailing a postcard. It's easy to set up your webmail or PC-based email program to use SSL by default, and then all emails you send will automatically encrypted while travelling over the Internet. Keep in mind, though, that the people receiving your emails and sending messages to you should also use SSL encrypton. Gmail now uses SSL by default, so it's a good choice. But security services know how to decrypt SSL, so if you really need to keep your information private, use AxCrypt to encrypt a file and send it as an attachment.

There you have it! These 7 steps will lock down your PC and help keep your private data safe from prying eyes!

Here are a few more juicy security tidbits:

Encryption of messages by RIM Blackberry, Skype and Google has been under attack in Saudi Arabia, India and other countries, whose governments claim these devices can pose a threat to national security. The simple fact they are ignoring is that with today's encryption software (such as AxCrypt), any form of Internet communication can be used to exchange messages that can't be read by these governments' security services. Of course, when you attach an encrypted file to an email, it's rather obvious that you don't want prying eyes to see it!

'Gross insecurity' of high-tech locks exposed
SMS Trojan steals from Android owners
Smartphone security put on test - read 'em and weep!

Due to other commitments, in the future I will be issuing CN.Net-News only on an occasional basis. Thanks for reading it so far!

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Yours truly,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

RobertD HoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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