HURIDOCS not too worried about the theft of its computers – read why

December 11, 2015

huridocs-logo-transparent-240x58Last weekend, HURIDOCS office in Geneva and the office of an ally organization were burglarized; two of its desktop computers were stolen. Computers were the only stolen items at both offices, but it’s not possible to say whether the theft was specifically for information stored on the hard drives or just for the computers themselves. Either way, it states confidently in a message that they have not experienced a data breach, because both computers were encrypted and locked with strong passwords. They also didn’t lose any data, because it’s safely stored in Casebox. Here’s how to protect your information and yourself, critical for human rights defenders, in case of physical computer theft:

  1. Lock your computer with a strong and unique password. All passwords should be strong and unique, but perhaps even most importantly for your computer itself. Simple passwords are more easily hacked by ‘brute force’ (guessing until success), seen by someone glancing as you type, or determined from camera footage (that’s why Snowden typed his passwords under a blanket in Citzenfour). There are some good tips for better passwords.
  2. Safeguard all passwords. Do not keep your passwords written on paper near your computer. A multitude of secure passwords will be impossible to keep in mind, so we recommend using a password manager like KeePassX instead; KeePassX also rates the strength of your passwords.
  3. Consistently lock your screen when you step away. Theft can happen very quickly and obviously, unexpectedly. Encrypt your hard drive. If it’s encrypted, no one else can read it. Check your settings in Filevault on Mac and Bitlocker or Veracrypt on Windows.
  4. Regularly back up your encrypted hard drive to another location. If your computer is stolen, you’ll still have all of your information. If you use a password manager like KeePassX, your backup will include a locked file containing all of your passwords. To further protect yourself against privacy breaches and malicious threats, we also recommend to: Scan your hard drive for viruses at least once a week with updated antivirus software like Sophos or Avast.
  5. Update your computer’s operating system and all critical software as soon as updates become available. These updates are often to better protect you from breaches. Set up two-factor authentication and two-step verification on all critical accounts like email, social networks, Apple ID, and shared workspaces. Change your passwords often.

HURIDOCS conclusion: If you’ve taken the above steps and your computer is stolen, you won’t need to worry about your data being stolen along with it. We strongly recommend all human rights defenders take these precautions.

 

https://www.huridocs.org/2015/12/steps-to-protect-your-data-computer-theft/

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