If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile, you’ll know that my house was broken into last October. Hoping to learn from my own mistakes and keep you, my fine readers, from making the same mistakes, I hosted a Safety Week. Well, clearly, I didn’t go far enough because on Friday, we were broken into again. This time, they only took the TV and the Wii but this is one more brush with loss that convinces me that WE MUST BE VIGILANT! So, let’s start off with a few links to some good advice to keep your home, office and digital world safe.
How to lock down your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPhone The easiest thing to lose, break or misplace is a device small enough to fit in your pocket so this is the first thing that should be secured. Lifehacker also has a whole slew of other tips for keeping you data and your life more secure in their Security sub-section. (via Lifehacker)
Simple tips to prevent a break-in (from This Old House via The Well-Appointed Desk)
Make a Personal Property Inventory List While this may not sound like the most fun way to spend an evening, building an inventory list of all your major household items and valuables including serial numbers will help you when filing claims with the police or an insurance company after a break-in or natural disaster. I would recommend making a digital list and storing it in the cloud somewhere. I would also print out a copy and store it with your manuals, etc. Save receipts as well. The cop who took my call recommended taping or stapling the receipts inside the manual. (via About.com)
Make a digital back-up plan I’ll have more information about this from my IT/Mac Specialist brother-in-law in the coming week but this article is a good place to start. (from Macworld)
Removing personal data from the internet One way to protect yourself is to cancel unused internet accounts and remove data from the internet to help lessen the damage if your laptop or identity is hacked. This is similar to cleaning up your credit report by removing unused or cancelled credit cards. If you’re making plans to protect the sanctity of your home, office and computers, making sure your personal identity and credit is protected is the next logical step. (via How To Vanish and MSN Money)
(Guard Pigeon compliments of 16Sparrows and the Letter Writers Alliance)
For serious back-up and data recovery, I recommend SuperDuper!. It has actually saved my bacon in the past so I can say with certainty that it works. In layman’s terms, SuperDuper! quickly and easily creates back-ups and clones of your hard drive in case of emergency. This is not Time Machine, that stores iterations of files and versions but a straight-up back-up of your data, home folder or clone of your drive. SuperDuper! does claim it is a perfect complement to Time Machine though.
I had not yet gotten around to installing the most recent version of SuperDuper! on my laptop before it got stolen last week so trust me when I say $27.95 is a small price to pay for the lost work-hours, family photos and treasured memories.
Update: SuperDuper! is free for the basic version. The $27.95 price tag is for the upgraded version that provides scheduling and smart back-up options. So, download the free version and try it out. You’ll be glad you did.
Another step to securing your digital life is having a good back-up system in place. One great option for active files and things you might need to share or access from multiple work stations is Dropbox. It is an online storage service that provides a great desktop applet that integrates seamlessly with Macs ad mobile devices (It also provides software that runs on Windows and Linux as well but I’ve not used it so I can’t speak to how effective it is).
I use the service to store various text documents, logos and image files I use regularly and as back-up of current projects that I’m still working on. Once a project is completed, its moved to other storage.
The free basic account provides 2GB of space and you can earn additional free space when friends sign up. Their service can also be upgraded to hold 50GB, 100GB and 1TB+ through a monthly service fee starting at $9.99/mo.
Once you’ve password protected your computer, locked all the doors and windows and backed up all your data, what could possibly be left to do? Protecting your passwords and making them as secure as possible. Thanks to 1Password, you can store all your passwords within one application under a master password. Also, 1Password can generate new and even more secure passwords for you behind your master password providing protection from online hacking. It will also store serial numbers, credit card data and notes under lock-and-key. Software can be backed up to Dropbox or your harddrive. The software is pricey but the peace of mind is free. $49 for desktop app. $14.99 for iOS.
Update: 1Password is available for Android and Windows as well as the full array of Apple products.
Next up in “Safety Week” is Hidden. It is an app you store on your computer that, when activated, will track your computer’s location, collect pictures using your iSight camera and snap screenshots of your computer in use so you can see what the thief is doing with your computer. All the feedback on the site suggests that Hidden is very effective in tracking and retrieving a stolen computer within hours of a theft. Prices start at $15/yr for a single computer with options for multiple systems and businesses. Fifteen dollars a year seems like a small price to pay for a bit more piece of mind.
For a nominal fee of $25, STOP tags offer a visible deterrent on any portable electronic device with a permanent adhesive sticker that requires 800lbs of pressure to remove. The sticker includes a bar code with the owner’s tracking data. Underneath the sticker is a permanently etched mark that says “Stolen property” asuuming a thief is able to remove the top bar code sticker. This combination makes it very difficult for a thief to resell your device and the sticker alone may be enough to deter someone form taking it in the first place.
This is probably one of the most cost effective methods of theft deterrents. I’ll have more options in the coming days.
(via tweet from our friends at 16sparrows)
I discovered some real advantages to upgrading to Lion OS following our break-in last week. Had I installed Lion and added the Find My iPhone app on my phone, I may have been able to track the location of my MacBookPro. Prior to upgrading to Lion, the app could only be used to track an iPhone, not a computer or iPad. Its a free app and upgrading to Lion is just $29 which seems like a small price to pay when I consider the cost of a new MacBookPro.
If you’ve been holding off upgrading to Lion, I recommend taking the chance. There are actually some really nice features and MacWorld has written some great articles about Lion including a cover article from the November 2011 issue about making the most out of Lion (and making it more Leopard-like, if you so desire).
Step number one in Safety Week. If you have a portable computer (or really any computer for that matter) go into your preferences right now and set your computer to require a user name and password upon restart, waking from sleep or waking from screen saver. It is your first line of defense for identity theft. It makes it harder for someone to get your data (be it your email address, credit card number or baby photos) and they will be more likely to just wipe the drive than try to hack it. It sucks either way but it’ll suck a whole lot less knowing thieves cannot access your data.
Most of us work out of our homes at some point, or keep a home office. As part of Safety Week, I thought I’d share this article about where potential break-ins happen and inexpensive ways to deter them. Other simple tips are:
- Make sure doors and windows are locked when you leave, even if you’re just going to the store.
- Keep blinds closed when you are gone. Thieves are less likely to break-in if they can’t see what you’ve got.
- Make sure you have secured valuables and important documents. If you decide to use a lock box or locking filing cabinet, make sure it is bolted down. Thieves will take a lock box hoping to find valuables inside it and smash it open later. If they can’t pry it off the floor, they are more apt to leave it.
- Install timers for interior and exterior lights. You may not be home but it might look like you are.
- If you are going out of town, make sure you have a friend or house sitter drop by regularly to collect your mail.
I’ve joked that I am a cautionary tale for all my friends (both IRL and on the internet) to start thinking about your own personal security, back-up systems and fortification. Learn from me and don’t learn safety by accident.
(via This Old House)