Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Secure your Vital file(s) from hackers!


Secure your files from hackers!

Hackers from all over the world are now trying to get your computer to “share” your files with them so that they can go through them to see if there is any information there that can be used to obtain vital information about you.

They look for your business account numbers, your utilities account numbers, your family's Social Security numbers, your home and/or business addresses, your health insurance identification number, and so on and so forth!

They need that information to try and gain access to your accounts and/or steal your identity or even use your information to gain access to a larger target such as a business institution or your bank.

I have come to the conclusion that it is probably now safer for the average user just to encrypt the sensitive information files that they save and are now just sitting there located on their hard drive and/or stored somewhere on the 'cloud'. How many users out there now have their previous years’ income tax returns just occupying their hard drives? I personally prepare my income taxes using the collection of spreadsheets that can be found and downloaded from the internet at http://www.excel1040.com and I surely wouldn’t want that information compromised by some unknown hacker(s)!

However, this recommendation comes with a little caveat!

The first thing that you should realize is that when you encrypt anything; if the protection was made by 'man' then somewhere that very same protection can be broken by another 'man'. What you really want to do is to try and cause the hacker to spent so much time trying to decrypt the file(s) that it isn't cost effective for the hacker to spent so much time and effort on your encrypted files and the hacker just moves on to their next victim, who they perceive will be easier to victimize.

A few years ago, I stopped buying Microsoft Office Suite and switched over to the GNU office suite of LibreOffice {it has a cousin named OpenOffice that is very similar} because it is a free software product and it serves all of the usual computer user needs as well as is able to open or save Microsoft Office Suite files.

My recommendation is that you “double encrypt” all of your sensitive files using two totally different software programs. NOW, don't be put off by this recommendation, luckily both LibreOffice & OpenOffice both come with a built in encryption feature!

1.) When you go to save the file(s), just click on the word File at the top of the screen and then click on Save As and a dialog box will open for you to type in the new file name. You will see a box next to the phrase 'Save with password', make sure that box is checked and type in the new file name. You will then be prompted for the password* to allow you to open the file whenever it is accessed. Type in the password that you want and the file will be saved so that only the correct password will allow it to be opened and accessed again.

That is the first encryption that you could use to protect your file(s).

The second program to finally “double encrypt” your file(s) that I recommend is another free program, AxCrypt, that can be downloaded off the internet. So, after you have encrypted it with the internal encryption of the office suite, you can then encrypt the whole file again with the stand alone program. That follows the security trend of “two-step” verification, which a great many major commercial and business institutions have been slowly adopting over the past several years. It is about time the average user join this trend


* Password(s) – my suggestion for easy to remember password(s) for the user and a very difficult password for the hacker to try and guess are old addresses at previous residences that you may have had in the past, especially if you have changed your city and/or state of residence:

{e.g. 1234MainStreet,AnyCity,AnyState(zip code)}

Such a password fulfills all the criteria for a very STRONG password, it has numerals, upper case letters, lower case letters, punctuation characters, and is more than 21 characters in length! It is estimated that it would take a super-computer working for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, over two years to guess such a password. This is something the user will always remember and the hacker will never have a clue of what it could possibly be. Not many hackers would spend that much time and money for computer time trying to guess such a password and just move on to their next victim that they have hacked after failing trying to guess the initial password.

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