Keep your files and info safe with these simple steps

Posted on April 1, 2002

How many passwords did you have to enter before you

started reading this?

A. 0

B. 1

C. 2

D. I don't remember, but I love watching "Password"

on the Game Show Network.

If you chose D, you might want to take the day off.

If you need a doctor's note, I'll send one out immediately.

I would guess many of you are using a computer that's

password protected, whether it be at work or at home.

Of course, you didn't need a password to get to this

site, but you may have needed one to login through your

Internet access or just to get into your work files.

For instance, I had to utter the password "The blue

frog croaks at midnight" to Jo Jo, our bouncer at work.

Unfortunately, I had to hand over $20 because it was

the wrong password.

Pick a good password -- I would highly advise against

using the password "password" for anything, unless you

were trying to coax enemies into erasing their important

files. I recommend picking something that's not in a

dictionary, whether it's numbers and letters or just

a word you made up. Hackers have programs that match

up words in a dictionary to passwords and the like,

so the use of good passwords can get you a long way

right there.

More info: Lycos.

Use a firewall -- If you have an Internet connection

and you don't have a firewall, a hacker can get into

your system if he can find your IP address. You can

enable most firewalls to be able to interact with safe

computers, if you want to send files to friends, etc.

Jo Jo acts as our company bouncer, except when he's

at the Chinese place for two hours eating the buffet.

More info: CNET.

Protect files ? You may have just a few files that

are confidential on your machine. Instead of locking

your entire computer down, just place a password on

that individual file. Many programs have this feature

available. Be careful on assigning passwords, though,

because these same programs probably do not have an

easy way of retrieving lost passwords.

More info:


Limit privileges using servers -- Depending on how

your office network is administered, it may be possible

for co-workers to access the files on your machine.

Being aware of what files are public is a big step in

protecting yourself. On most Macs, users have the ability

to use a shared folder, which gives a person more control

over what files can be seen by all. In Windows NT, hard

drives throughout the network must be mapped to a specific

computer to have access to them. The administrator usually

has privileges that other users do not have to get into

those files.

More info: Brandeis


Don't overkill protection -- If you forget your password

or misplace a certain file, that's just as bad as deleting

it. You could keep a written list of important items

just in case you were to forget something crucial. I'm

fairly confident a hacker will not be able to find your

notes, unless he's the pizza man and you leave your

password notebook on the couch.

Following these small steps should keep your files

safe. Then again, maybe you don't have any information

anyone would want. Remember that it's extremely difficult

to push a computer through a paper shredder. Even Jo

Jo can't help you there.