Securing your personal data.

A few weeks ago, a friend, on returning home from work, found that her house was broken into. Her Macbook Pro, iMac, camcorder, and a digital camera were stolen. The robbery happened mid-day, in broad daylight!!!

Most of her personal digital assets, pictures and videos, stored on the computers were lost, forever. This is far more devastating than the financial impact of the robbery.

This incident got me thinking about the precautions I have taken in case something like this were to happen to me.

For about a year now, I have been regularly backing up and encrypting all my files. This in itself is not enough though, a copy of the backup has to be stored offsite. If you are in India, you can go down to your bank and get yourself a locker and store it there.

My GMail account contains in it a lot of personal information as well as credentials to other online sevices. It would be a pretty big blow if anyone were to break into my account and take control of it.

Sometime back Google introduced the two-factor authentication scheme for GMail. I felt that it was too much of a hassle to have it turned on, but this story in The Atlantic had me thinking really hard about how devastated I’d be if this were to happen to me.

As of last week, my GMail account has two-factor authentication turned on. Even though this does not guarantee security (nothing does) it does make it incredibly hard for anyone to gain control of it.

I’ve always advocated backing up files, encrypting, and storing a copy offsite. It has never been easier to do all of these without much hassle. All OSes have built in back up facilities, TrueCrypt is free and easy to use, external storage drives are dirt cheap.

So what are you waiting for? Backup and encrypt everything!!!

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