<em>This is the first installment of the <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/tag/tech-insider/" target="_blank"><strong>Tech Insider</strong></a>. Each week we will investigate new technology tools that professionals and small business owners can use to increase productivity, security, and stay innovative in this Web 2.0 world.</em> These days business information is conducted, stored, and created online more than ever before. Some people go through great lengths to keep that data secure, doing everything from purchasing expensive anti virus software to avoiding the internet entirely, thereby missing out on innovative ways to stay competitive in a digital world. Keeping your data protected from corruption and your identity guarded from unauthorized use may require more common sense and less cryptic technology. Here are five things you need to do to decrease the likelihood that your proprietary business transactions won’t be violated.
<strong>Lock your computer </strong>– If you share a computer with coworkers, employees, or even family, you should lock your user profile whenever you walk away from the machine. Locking your computer will prevent others from accessing private data. Create a password for yourself in Microsoft Windows by visiting user accounts in the “control panel” and “system preferences” then Accounts on Apple computers. Later, simply press the ctrl, alt, delete keys to bring up the security screen when you are ready to lock the computer.
<strong>Protect your password </strong>– Every time you register on a Web site you are required to create a password. Do not use readily available biographical information as a password, says <strong><a href="http://security.comcast.net/get-protected/index.aspx" target="_blank">Cathy Avgiris</a></strong>, senior vice president and general manager of communications and data services at <strong><a href="http://www.comcast.net/security" target="_blank">Comcast</a></strong>. In other words, avoid using your birth date, birth city, mother’s maiden name, or any information that can be found in public records. Also don’t use the same password everywhere. Not every site you visit, will actually keep your password safe, and once someone discovers it, all of your information is up for grabs.
<strong>Outsource your storage </strong>– Data loss can ruin a business and there are plenty of ways that it could happen. You can lose your flash drive, break or scratch a CD, or even just forget where it is saved on your hard drive. Consider saving your data in a cloud-based storage system like <strong><a href="https://mozy.com/?ref=0811cfe9&gclid=CJC174e8gKMCFQNHnQodX3hsbQ&mcr=1" target="_blank">Mozy.com</a></strong> or <strong><a href="http://www.carbonite.com/ads/ppc/Google/TM/ProductShot/signup.aspx?ppc_campaign=CB%20-%20TM%20Handhold&ppc_group=carbonite%20-%20Exact&ppc_kwd=carbonite&Sourcetag=google&cmpid=PPC_TM_Product&s_kwcid=TC|6568|carbonite||S|e|5068921651&gclid=CLvtoZq8gKMCFRkcswodWnyyjA" target="_blank">Carbonite.com</a></strong> or remotely access your data using <strong><a href="https://www.gotomypc.com/tr/ggp/gotomypc-Exact/NAPPC/g25sem?Target=mm/g25sem.tmpl&gclid=CLr7srC8gKMCFQ9jswod8U43aQ" target="_blank">GoToMyPC.com</a></strong>. As long as you have an internet connection you can access your files from any place, including on your smart phone. In addition, you can tag your files with keywords so that they are easier to find.
<strong>Update your Antivirus software and firewall -</strong> Firewalls and antivirus protection are very important tools to keep your computer clean from spyware, bots, and viruses. But you don’t always have to pay a huge amount of money for a good one. Some internet service providers, like <strong><a href="http://www.comcast.net/security" target="_blank">Comcast</a></strong>, include firewall/antivirus protection for free. If yours doesn’t you can also look to the government for protection. The <strong><a href="http://www.openinfosecfoundation.org/index.php/download-suricata" target="_blank">Open Information Security Foundation</a></strong> released an intrusion protection and prevention software, funded by the Department of Homeland Security.
<strong>Erase your garbage</strong> – Before you trash your old computer erase your hard drive. Pressing delete, isn’t good enough, because the files are still there even if they aren’t readily visible to you. There are plenty of free or inexpensive software, like <strong><a href="http://www.dban.org/" target="_blank">Boot and Nuke</a></strong> or <strong><a href="http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/people/Hughes/SecureErase.shtml" target="_blank">Secure Erase</a></strong>, created by University of California in San Diego, which will help you completely wipe out all of your proprietary data. <strong>For more information visit:</strong> <strong><a href="http://www.bbb.org/us/storage/16/documents/SecurityPrivacyMadeSimpler.pdf" target="_blank">Better Business Bureau and Security Made Simpler</a></strong><a href="http://security.comcast.net/" target="_blank"><strong>, Comcast Security,</strong></a> <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/?s=techwatch" target="_blank"><strong>TechWatch</strong></a>, <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/small-business/2009/12/04/tech-tools-for-entrepreneurs/" target="_blank"><strong>Tech Tools for Entrepreneurs,</strong></a>