Becoming Cybermindful: Do you know where you data is?

Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

We keep pretty good track of our paper lives. We can quickly locate driver’s licenses, birth certificates and wedding albums. We know what’s in the family lock box or file cabinet. Our online stuff, however, can be trickier to pin down. Was that file on my desktop or in Google Drive? Did I download those pictures to my laptop or are they still on the digital camera? There’s a lot of cyberspace out there, and it’s easy to lose track of what went where.

Sometimes that’s ok - most computers are littered with abandoned, half-finished documents and spreadsheets. But there’s some stuff we really want to keep tabs on, like sensitive work information or important personal data. The rising threat of ransomware makes this even more important: one bad phish-click could lock us out of all our data - junk and treasure.

This month, take a few minutes to assess what you’ve got where and protect yourself from a potential ransomware or hardware disaster by backing up the good stuff.Man looking at storm and talking to son saying: It's nothing to be frightened of, it's just nature's way of reminding us to back up our data.

Where Your Data (Probably) Is
First, a quick overview of common storage options at UD and where they leave us with regard to data backup and recovery.

  • Novell: These shared UD network drives are perfect for highly sensitive or critical work information. Data you store here is very secure and saved offline by our IT techs daily - you don’t even have to think about it.
  • Google Drive: A convenient tool for collaborating and sharing documents. These aren’t backed up, per se, but if you delete something it stays in the “trash” until you intentionally empty it. For several reasons (available upon request), UD’s Google Drive isn’t particularly at risk in a ransomware attack. Of course, if there’s anything absolutely critical stored here, you’ll still want to have a backup copy somewhere else. Just in case.
  • Computer hard drive: Saving files to your office workstation is easy and secure (assuming you don’t walk away while you’re logged in). But things stored here are at risk of both ransomware and good old fashioned hardware failure. So save important files to an offline external hard drive periodically.

Cartoon of floppy disk talking to USB flash drive saying: I used to have your job. Now I'm lucky if I can find work as a drink coaster.

On the virtues of an external hard drive
It’s a good idea to invest in an external hard drive. They’re like a USB drive, but bigger, faster and less likely to fall out of your pocket. Periodically plug it into your computer and copy over the files/documents/pictures you want to keep safe. Then unplug and put it away somewhere else. This way if your computer has problems (self or hacker-inflicted), you’ll have an “off-site” copy of your most important stuff.

NOTE: The “unplug and put it elsewhere” is key - in a ransomware attack, anything “attached” to your computer will be affected (including other external media - like a USB drive - plugged in at the time) . So make sure your off-site backup is truly off the site.

These beauties aren’t too pricey, either. We found a 1 terabyte drive for $50. That’s a pretty decent size. Take a look:Infographic showing how much storage 1 terabyte holds

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