Let’s not pretend that you haven’t done what I do all the time. You’re sitting at a computer in a somewhat-public workspace. You realize that you have a moment of privacy so you open a web page you would prefer your coworkers didn’t see you browsing. Now, it may not necessarily be a “naughty” web page. Let’s just call it a “personal” web site that you feel no one needs to know you are visiting.
Maybe you have high-tech medical care and you can’t wait to pull up your lab results online after a recent physical.
Or perhaps you’re on deadline to finish booking a vacation on Expedia.com and you want to keep the details private.
It could be that you really are looking at something naughty -I pass no judgment upon you -the fact simply goes to my point.
Everyone who works in an office and sneak-peeks at web pages knows how to hover their mouse pointer on the minimize button or the X in the corner of their browser to make their secret browsing go “poof” if the footsteps of coworkers get too close. It’s great how you can make the web page disappear, but not really, right? If you know how to quickly hide Internet Explorer, then you are probably a polished, web page sneak-peeker. If you also know how to selectively delete your browser history then you are either very computer savvy or a practiced, naughty peeker.
Much worse than having a coworker stumble into your office to see that you are browsing a web page that reveals more than you wanted revealed about you is to have an entire laptop chock full of personal data stolen. You may not be present to suffer any face to face embarrassment, but the thief will have plenty of private time to learn all about your computer habits and probably your life.
With identity theft on the rise and the occasional new stories of some executive losing a laptop that contains the personal data of zillions of people, I am amazed at how little people do to protect that data.
If you are serious about protecting computer data, then passwords aren’t enough; software exists that will let anyone with physical access to a computer replace the Administrator password in less than two minutes. The best solution, in my opinion, is file encryption.
To protect my laptop data, I use a fantastic, free program called TrueCrypt(.com). It encrypts a portion of my hard drive so that accessing data from that encrypted area without a password (one that I make strong and long) is virtually impossible -even if a thief were to gain private access to the laptop. It’s in this area of my computer that I save my secrets. Installation and set up are easy and TrueCrypt can even be used on portable USB drives to store sensitive data.
It’s not a tool that will help you get away with sneak-peeking at web pages, but it will prevent your private files from being sneak-peeked.