Computer Security Tip: Confidential Data Storage

What is it?

Confidential data is any information you don't want others to obtain without your permission including (but not limited to): social security number, home address, phone numbers of friends/family/colleagues/students, your drivers license or bank account numbers, a list of all your passwords, your home address or phone numbers, your employee ID number, digital images, word documents containing personal text, etc. Most people store confidential data of some kind on their computers within Word files, address books, or application settings.

What risks are involved?

If unauthorized persons gain access to or steal your computer, and to the confidential information you are storing, they could use that information to commit identity theft,the fastest growing crime in the U.S. Another risk is that the information could be changed and you may not immediately discover the unauthorized modification.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Minimize the amount of confidential information you store on your computer.
  • Store the confidential information on portable media, such as a CD, flashdrive, ZIP disk or floppy disk. Secure the portable media in a locked cabinet when it is not being used.
  • If you must store credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other confidential data on your computer, learn how to encrypt the files (available via some operating systems).
  • Physically secure your computer (laptop or desktop) to the desk where it sits. You can purchase a simple cable lock (similar to a bike lock) at any tech-supply store for around $30 that will deter and usually prevent theft.
  • Set your computer to ask you for an account password at login. (if someone else is sneaking onto your computer, this will prevent them from gaining access to your files). B e sure to disable the ?Guest? account, as use of this account is likely to be untraceable.
What is UC Davis doing to protect me?
  • UC Davis provides guidance for faculty or staff who have to store confidential data on their work computers. Visit the Computer and Network Security site and check out the Identity Theft Prevention section. You should also consult with your departments tech support person for finding ways to store confidential data.