Ask the Expert: How to Protect Your Data

Q: What is the easiest/best way for me to protect my data if my device is lost or stolen?

A: The best way to protect data when your computer has gone missing is to cover these three aspects of security beforehand:

  1. Sign-in protection: This can be as simple as a password or a PIN for your computer. it can be as advanced as facial recognition or a fingerprint scanner. If you have a password, do not make it your name or your name plus year of birth. Please. Every time someone makes their password that easy a nerdy angel loses their wings. That’s how I got here.
  2. Remote data management: Here’s a weird concept – what if your computer didn’t have any important data on it. What if everything you work on is stored offsite, so that when a ne’er-do-well gets their hands on your computer and discovers they can’t log in since you’ve got an awesome password, they try to pull your hard drive only to discover all you have is some recipes you saved. Keeping things in The Cloud lowers your risk substantially by removing your data from the computer itself. If we treat our computers like portals to data, rather than data storage units, we’ll all be much safer.
  3. Cloud security services: There are services that allow you to lock down your computer completely without even touching the keyboard. Or being on the same continent as the keyboard. I would have to recommend using JumpCloud (I don’t get paid to say that – they’re just the best) on all mobile computers in your office. With this service, if your computer goes missing, you have the ability to disable the computer until you decide to bring it back online. If you can’t get your computer back, it will be worthless to the thief until they completely wipe your computer, removing any data that might have been stored there.

Q: I am always on the go and in meetings and occasionally find myself needing to print at someone else’s office. Is there a way to easily do this without having to email the meeting host a copy of my document?

A: This has a pretty simple answer: Google Print. If your data is stored on your computer, you can access a wireless-capable printer, and print your document then and there. If your data is stored in The Cloud, and you have Google Print, you can access any wireless printer and print your document – from your phone. As someone who is on the go a lot, it’s easy to lose track of a hardcopy document; to be able to take out my phone and print in someone else’s office is a life-saver.

Now obviously you’ll have to connect to that new printer, but that inconvenience is massively outweighed by the fact that you don’t have to drive back to your office or email that document to someone in the meeting, so they can print it for you. There’s a certain amount of wizardry that makes you look even though you’ve forgotten a document (or maybe it was lost or destroyed before this meeting) like you’re prepared for anything.

Author Dallas Emerson is a TSAE member and the Technical Sherpa for The IT Guys (www.itguysusa.com), an IT support firm in Austin that helps nonprofits. Reach him at dallas@itguysusa.com.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/monsitj

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