The Physical Side of Keeping Your Data Secure

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Just as I was sitting down to write this, I received a call from my youngest daughter. It seems that her husband’s truck was stolen overnight, while they were asleep. They don’t really live in a high crime area; although nice trucks tend to be targets for theft in the area where they live. Most of those stolen end up across the border in Mexico, on their way farther south for sale.

Making matters considerably worse, his laptop, iPad, phone, birth certificate and who knows what else were in the vehicle at the time it was stolen. So, whoever stole the truck not only got a nice one-year-old truck, they also got access to all the information necessary to do some massive identity theft.

People talk about data security all the time, mostly talking about the proper use of passwords and watching out for e-mail that could be a scam. But in reality, there’s much more to cybercrimes than people stealing your password. A lot of what goes on in social media is intended to give hackers information they can use to guess your password and pretend to be you. That’s what all those stupid quizzes online are, where you are supposed to fill in a word for every letter of your name or some such thing.

But there’s also a very real physical side to data security as well. What happened to my son-in-law is probably the worst thing that could happen to anyone. All of his information was in that truck and is now in the hands of someone who has already proven themselves to be a thief. The only question is how well they can use that information.

The obvious thing here is to not leave your laptop bag, phone or anything else in the car, where it can be stolen. Any time we leave our electronic devices anywhere that is outside our control, we put ourselves in a dangerous situation. Adding to that, we could put others in danger, as we might have critical information about them, even if that is nothing more than contact information. All that hackers need, to start unraveling someone’s life and figuring out how to steal from them, is a single thread.

Ok, so what do you do if you have to leave your laptop or other electronics in the car?

I came to a realization several years ago, which is just as applicable here. The realization was that on those occasions that I needed to leave my sidearm in the car, I needed better security than just slipping it under the seat. For that reason, I bolted a lockbox into the trunk, so that they would first have to break into my trunk and then have to break into the lockbox to get to the gun. It’s not perfect; but it’s more secure.

Might I suggest something similar for your electronics? Granted, it’s harder to find a larger lockbox, which has enough room for a laptop; but it’s not impossible. This isn’t a perfect solution; but it will make it harder for a thief to get to your electronics, as long as they are locked in the box. Make it hard enough, and they’ll give up, looking for easier prey.

This isn’t something we should only do in our vehicles, either. Personal computers are a prime item for burglars to steal from homes, and not just for their resale value. Even if the burglars aren’t hackers themselves, they know that the information on your computer is valuable to those who know how to use it, allowing them access to your life and finances.

Many companies use computer locks to physically attach office computers to desks, so that they cannot be stolen. The same thing will work in your home. While it is still possible to steal a computer that is locked in place, it is much hard. Hard enough, that it will probably dissuade the burglar who wants to get into and out of your home as quickly as possible. They don’t have time to mess with that lock and taking the entire desk is both too difficult and too obvious.

If anything, the proliferation of AI is going to make protecting your electronic data even more important than ever before. What used to be something we did as a nuisance task is going to become more critical, as more advanced computer resources are applied to cracking your security. If we don’t get ahead of the curve, it could cost us everything.

Maybe taking care of your data security doesn’t seem like self-defense, but it’s just as important as keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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