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Source: US-CERT

In addition to taking precautions to protect your portable devices, it is
important to add another layer of security by protecting the data itself.

Why do you need another layer of protection?

Although there are ways to physically protect your laptop, PDA, or other
portable device (see Protecting Portable Devices: Physical Security for more
information), there is no guarantee that it won’t be stolen. After all, as
the name suggests, portable devices are designed to be easily transported.
The theft itself is, at the very least, frustrating, inconvenient, and
unnerving, but the exposure of information on the device could have serious
consequences. Also, remember that any devices that are connected to the
internet, especially if it is a wireless connection, are also susceptible to
network attacks.

What can you do?

* Use passwords correctly – In the process of getting to the information
on your portable device, you probably encounter multiple prompts for
passwords. Take advantage of this security. Don’t choose options that
allow your computer to remember passwords, don’t choose passwords that
thieves  could easily guess, use different passwords for different
programs, and take advantage of additional authentication methods

* Consider storing important data separately – There are many forms of storage media, including CDs, DVDs, and removable flash drives (also
known as USB drives or thumb drives). By saving your data on removable
media and keeping it in a different location (e.g., in your suitcase
instead of your laptop bag), you can protect your data even if your
laptop is stolen.

* Encrypt files – By encrypting files, you ensure that unauthorized people
can’t view data even if they can physically access it. You may also want
to consider options for full disk encryption, which prevents a thief
from  even starting your laptop without a passphrase. When you use
encryption, it is important to remember your passwords and passphrases;
if you forget or lose them, you may lose your data.

* Install and maintain anti-virus software

* Install and maintain a firewall

* Back up your data

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