Does your cyber hygiene need a brush up?
Jan 13, 2012 11:16am
By Michael Waksman, Jetico
When you work with sensitive data, no matter what field you're in, regular cyber security checks are a must. Practicing routine 'cyber hygiene' will help protect against spillage or loss of your sensitive data.
If you're wondering what 'cyber hygiene' means, a great way to understand it could be to compare 'cyber hygiene' with something more familiar, such as dental hygiene.
The idea is simple... For good dental hygiene, we trust the American Dental Association for proper guidance. For good ‘cyber hygiene’, we have the National Cyber Security Alliance.
When we visit the dentist, we're told that we should brush our teeth twice a day to keep our teeth clean and healthy. However, to really protect our teeth and gums, we are also advised to floss our teeth regularly and to use mouthwash.
So what does that have to do with data on a computer? Well think of it like this: When we delete files, it's like brushing our teeth. On the surface, it may appear that we've cleaned everything up, but look a little closer and there are still bits and pieces remaining that only flossing (wiping of data) will really get rid of.
In 'cyber hygiene' terms, using a high quality data wiping tool is like flossing our teeth. It gets rid of all data remanence - and it's the only way to go if you want to truly protect your sensitive data from unwanted eyes.
If you don't routinely wipe data on your computer, then when you create files, work with them, or delete them, parts of those files accumulate as data remanence.
To be absolutely sure that you've removed all data remanence, you need to take extra steps. Using a powerful data wiping utility can ensure that you've removed all the sensitive data to the point where it can no longer be recovered.
By doing so, you can be confident that you've successfully protected that data.
In order to guarantee a clean computer and permanently delete all traces of old or used files, there are several important steps that we should all be taking:
1. Use the right tools for the job
Using dental floss is a must to keep your teeth squeaky clean - and a good quality data wiping utility is essential to make sure that all sensitive data is erased:
Getting back to this hygiene idea, a powerful data wiping utility with enhanced tools is like using dental floss and mouthwash alongside your toothbrush and toothpaste. While using just some of these things will cover the basics, the extra tools will be that much more effective.
When removing data from your computer, wiping software can be used in conjunction with encryption software to more thoroughly protect your data.
With encryption, you can completely protect your swap file. Windows-based systems use a swap file for virtual memory support - helping to manage system memory while you're working at your laptop or PC.
While working on your files, Windows will take files or documents (even those that have been encrypted) and copy all or part of them to an open unencrypted 'swap. ' Encrypting the swap file will preserve the integrity of data, further preventing any unauthorized access to private information.
2. Perform wiping tasks properly
When you visit a dental hygienist, you'll get tips on how to brush your teeth properly... "Use short strokes, back-and-forth and up-and-down"... "Pay attention to your gum line"... "Clean the inner and outer surfaces of your teeth"... and so on.
Much like these tips on dental hygiene, here are some ‘cyber hygiene’ steps to make sure you cover all bases and completely wipe your data for a clean system
(NOTE: Don’t worry if this sounds too complicated – take comfort that with a good wiping utility, all this dirty work is managed with a simple click or checking a box.):
3. Establish a routine to improve results
A dentist will recommend brushing your teeth twice a day to prevent tooth decay. And routine cleaning of your computer system is recommended to preserve data integrity and prevent data spillage or unauthorized access to sensitive information.
For best results, you should do the following:
Of course, you may think all this cleaning sounds great - but you may also be wondering how on earth you'll find the time for it all! You may also be wondering if this is all really that important...
If you're yet to be convinced, let's use the dental hygiene analogy and compare dental and cyber hygiene to weigh the benefits:
Like dental hygiene, good 'cyber hygiene' is something that you need to carry out routinely.
In recent years, technology and cyber security experts have created many effective and powerful tools that ensure your computer and sensitive files remain safe. Routine use of reliable wiping tools is the best way to protect you and your private information.
Practice good ‘cyber hygiene’ and keep your computer safe and clean!
Michael Waksman is the CEO of Jetico, a company that provides military-standard data protection software for all highly sensitive information and mission-critical data throughout the lifecycle. For over 10 years, Jetico's BCWipe has been trusted by the U.S. Department of Defense to securely erase sensitive data.