14 Jun 2019

3 Tips to Destroy Sensitive Data & Information

Data destruction used to be simple. You’d take your files to the office shredder, toss them in, and they’d be effectively destroyed.

Unfortunately, it’s much harder to destroy electronic files. You might think you’ve completely destroyed your files by emptying the trash folder, but that’s usually not enough to permanently delete files from your computer. Emptying your recycling bin appears to delete sensitive information, but really, all you’re doing is erasing the file’s “easy to find” location. It still exists on your computer.

 

Why Can You Still Recover Files?

Have you ever felt that moment of panic when you accidentally delete an important document? Or when you can’t find Monday morning’s presentation? We’ve all accidentally deleted files before. That’s why our computer systems are designed to protect our files. According to How to Geek, this is how it works:

Your operating system keeps track of the files you have on your computer with pointers. These pointers show your computer where each file lives. When you delete a file, there’s free disk space where the old file once lived. That space can now be used to store a new file. However, until your computer saves another file in that free space, the previous file still has a footprint there and can be recovered.

 

Why is it Done this Way?

For speed and recovery. Deleting a file’s pointer and marking the space as available is a much quicker process than rewriting or writing over large files. It also means we have the chance to recover files if they’re accidentally deleted.

So how can you permanently delete documents from your computer?

 

  1. Overwrite It

When you delete sensitive files, they can still be recovered from your hard drive. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to prevent recovery: by overwriting your sensitive data.

Overwriting is usually done with a specialized program or software. When you’re overwriting, you’ll be literally writing over sensitive information with unimportant, meaningless data. The more times a file is overwritten, the harder it is to decode. There’s still some debate about how many times you need to overwrite to effectively wipe the file, but it’s generally recommended that you overwrite a file 3 times, if not more.

 

  1. Degaussing

Degaussing is a process where your hard drive is passed through a powerful magnetic field to make it completely unreadable. While this method doesn’t actually delete your files, the magnetics scramble the magnetic fields of your electronics to the point that data recovery is nearly impossible.

Unfortunately, you can’t just run a fridge magnet over your hard drive. This method requires you to use a trained professional to ensure the magnetic fields are properly shuffled. Which means it probably isn’t the go-to method for most small businesses.

 

  1. Destroy It

If you store sensitive information on a hard drive there’s one sure fire way to permanently destroy the data: physically destroy the hard drive. It’s kind of like shredding a paper document – except you’ll be shredding the electronics inside your hard drives.

Some companies offer this service for you, but it’s simple enough to do on your own. All you need to do is stop the electronics from running completely. You can do this by nailing through the drive, crushing it, or cutting it into pieces – however you can safely manage it. And this can be done for any electronic device, including memory cards or flash drives. The only downside? You’ve lost your entire storage device in the process!

It’s not the ideal destruction method for files, so if you’re about to head in this direction as a last resort, come see the professionals at Alt-Tech for a security consultation first. We can save you money and make sure all your sensitive files are securely stored or deleted.

 

To learn more about securely deleting files from your hard drive or if you need help recovering a file, schedule your free consult. We’re ready to help you with all your managed cyber security needs, big or small.

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22 Mar 2019

Choosing the Best File Storage Option for Your Business

Secure file storage used to mean keeping your files in a filing cabinet or in file boxes. With online storage, we now have greater security, storage, and sharing capabilities. For years now, the most effective storage facility for documents and files has been in the online cloud – but there are other options for you to consider. Here are some of the most popular file storage locations for your business.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage has fast become the most popular way for individuals and businesses to store and share files. By using cloud storage, you’re able to work in real time with other people – anywhere, anytime, from any device. You also know your data is stored together in one place and that everyone is working on the most up to date versions, allowing you to actively collaborate with one another without the hassle of sending and saving documents. There’s also a fairly unlimited storage capacity. But the cloud isn’t without its flaws. There are some security workarounds and depending on how much info you need to store, you might end up paying a high monthly bill.

External Hard Drives

If you’ve already got your files saved in the cloud you might be wondering what the benefit of an external drive is. In the end, it comes down to security. If your files were to be wiped or compromised on a cloud-sharing program (which is unlikely, but possible), you would have a complete backup of your files on an external drive. There’s no need to connect to the Internet or even go online; it’s all right there waiting for you. While there’s always the risk that your disk drive can break down or become damaged, they’re an excellent resource to have as your backup to cloud storage.

Flash Drives

Flash drives aren’t usually the go-to for file storage or sharing anymore because of the amazing capabilities of cloud software, especially because flash memory and security are fairly limited. However, they’re excellent if you need to share a couple files between people or if you’re looking for a cheaper option. Just because they’re a little lower tech doesn’t mean they aren’t still a viable option. Similar to external hard drives, these are also an excellent option if you want a secondary backup for particularly important files on a cloud drive.

Deciding on Your Storage

When you’re deciding which of these methods is best for your business, be sure to consider the following:

  • Reliability. Can you trust this method to support your files for years to come? Are you going to be worried about losing files or causing major setbacks to your business?
  • Cost. Is this option the most cost effective? Does the cost equal the benefit your business will receive? Remember the most cost-effective storage method may not be the cheapest one.
  • Storage Capacity. How much storage does this option offer you? And how much storage do you need? You want to make sure that you have enough room to store current and future data.
  • Lifespan. Does the storage media have a limited lifespan? Will the technology you’re using quickly become obsolete or will it have some longevity?
  • Speed. How quickly does it operate? Do you have to wait a long time to upload or save files? And how long does it take to retrieve that data? You don’t want to be left waiting because of a slow storage method.
  • Security. Even when you’re looking at storage methods, data protection is still your first concern. Be sure that no matter what method you choose, your files are going to remain secure and protected.

Different data storage methods have different benefits. It’s always best to have a back-up, so choose a storage method that will give you full peace of mind.

Have questions about options for file storage in Edmonton? Need to know what’s going to work best for your business? Learn more about our data storage options, or contact Alt-Tech’s data storage experts for a consultation.

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08 Mar 2019

5 Best Practices to Improve Data Security

Cyber security starts internally. From new security solutions to software updates, there are plenty of ways you can help keep your company safe. So where to begin? We’ve put together the 5 best practices for you to implement to secure business data and give you some peace of mind.

1. Always Update!

When your computer gets that pop-up saying it’s time to update, it’s tempting to simply push the ‘later’ button. But you need to stop ignoring those updates! Updates improve information security by responding to current threats and fixing bugs. They address all the different security issues present in your computer. So by updating your computer, you’re actually keeping data protected without having to do any of the work.

2. Protect with Strong Passwords

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to keep your data safe is to have a strong password. Having simple or common passwords makes it easier for cyber criminals to access sensitive data. Fortunately, these data breaches are preventable by having your employees create strong passwords and regularly update their passwords.

There are a few easy ways to improve the strength of your password. For example, you can increase the length, include numbers, or include special characters. If you want to learn more about which passwords to avoid and creating strong passwords, check out our post on The Worst Passwords of 2018.

3. Keep an Eye Out For Phishing Scams

Phishing scams, ransomware, and other cyber attacks are something that all businesses have to deal with. You can’t stop these cyber threats entirely, but you can help reduce the risk of actually having your data stolen. The best way to stop sensitive information from being stolen through a cyber attack is to learn what to look for.

When you receive a phishing scam, it’ll probably look legitimate, but beware because they can cause a lot of damage. Typically phishing scams are emails that appear to be from a trustworthy source. They will ask you to follow a link or to provide some form of personal data. These attacks are often filled with grammatical errors, so keep an eye out for mistakes or strange wording. They’ll also want you to ‘act fast,’ claiming that your account has been hacked or is expiring. Don’t believe these emails – take the time to read them through and verify them before you click any links. Whenever unsure, contact the company by phone to verify that the email is legitimate. Stay vigilant and always double-check suspicious emails to prevent falling victim to phishing scams.

4. Secure and Encrypt Data

A lot of companies are encrypting their information. Encryption takes your data and converts it to codes. Only someone who has the ‘key’ can unlock the codes to access the information. If you don’t encrypt your information, you leave it more exposed to online threats.

By using encryption, you’re making it impossible for a hacker to read or make copies of data. So, while the information may be lost, you don’t have to worry about someone else having access to it. If you’re interested in other methods of protecting your information, you can also look into data masking or data erasure techniques. Alt-Tech has plenty of encryption options that have helped companies secure their data more easily and thoroughly.

5. Educate Your Staff

You can’t implement any of these practices if you haven’t taken the time to educate your staff. When you take the time to help them understand the different security threats and how they can counteract them, they’ll know why it’s important and how to manage threats. Make sure you explain your company’s online practices and procedures, hold sessions on how to recognize phishing and other scams, and make sure to update your staff on policy changes or new threats. This will make all the difference when it comes to protecting your business online. 

Want to improve your business’ cyber security? Alt-Tech is here to help! We offer data backup and recovery, system security services, and around the clock monitoring. To learn more check out our services page.

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