As we and our computers continue to evolve in this wonderful world of computer technology, it is necessary that our awareness is heightened when it comes to protecting sensitive files on our computer. When I say “sensitive files”, I am referring to files that can shed a light about your identity, your financial status, your health, your tax forms, etc… These are files that we hold close to us or should be holding close to us. I have found that most people that use a computer do not take the necessary precautions to manage and protect these files and often forget about the files altogether (which is a really bad thing).
In today’s world, document processing, handling and management is predominantly in electronic formats, in combination with the hardcopy paper formats. What occurs is that we will take the hardcopy paper formats of sensitive documents and we’ll lock them up, often off site (in case the house burns down). Where we fail is when we let the electronic copies out there on our computers. For example, I recently purchased a home; and with any home purchase you are exposed to and presented with sensitive documents that reference the property transfer (i.e. settlement, contracts, etc…). Nearly every document I was presented with was sent electronically to me via email (which is not really a good thing in itself). Eventually I would “print & copy” and end up with a “hard paper copy” for my records; which I ultimately locked up for my eyes to see only. Where I could have failed is if I did not take the necessary precautions to “lock down” those files on my PC. Really, what’s the sense of locking up the “paper hard copies” when the electronic copies are laying there on your PC for anyone to see. This is especially problematic if your PC is victim to an internet malware attack and your sensitive files are now being literally stolen.
Some things to consider:
1.) If you maintain sensitive files on your PC, keep them in one folder on your PC. You can call that folder “Lock Box”. Under the “Lock Box” folder you can have sub-folders that contain the sensitive documents. For example, you may have a folder called “Tax Forms”. The reason for the “one folder” concept is that this makes management of the files easy (and in one place).
2.) Routinely copy your lockbox folder to a flash drive or CD/DVD. Take that copy and lock it up (preferably off site away from your house). If you use an online file storage option, I strongly encourage to use encryption software (as reflected in step 3).
3.) Now the most important part. Encrypt your “Lock Box” folder on your PC using encryption software. There are numerous third party options out there.
What do I use for this purpose? Recently a fellow blogger at the “Crazy World of G” exposed an open source “FREE” encryption program, called AxCrypt that will get the job done. I have used AxCrypt for years and it has not let me down yet. The one really “cool factor” that I like about AxCrypt is that I can encrypt my folders and files and convert them to an “exe” (executable) file format. Files encrypted and converted into the “exe” format allows me to take the file anywhere; however, to open the file requires a password. I thank the “Crazy World of G” for motivating me to write about protecting our senstive files and using AxCrypt to get-r-done!
AxCrypt is the leading open source file encryption software for Windows. It integrates seamlessly with Windows to compress, encrypt, decrypt, store, send and work with individual files.
We have received 1,756,691 registrations, so it is tried and proven!
Right-click integration with Windows Explorer makes AxCrypt the easiest way to encrypt individual files in Windows.
Double-click integration makes it as easy to open, edit and save encrypted files as it is to work with unencrypted files.
Many additional features, but no configuration required, just install it and use it.
AxCrypt encrypts files that are safely and easily sent to other users via e-mail or any other means. Self-decrypting files are also supported, removing the need to install AxCrypt to decrypt.
AxCrypt is translated into English, Danish, Swedish, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Spanish, French, Italian and Norwegian so chances are it speaks your preferred language.