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Guidance on storing sensitive data on a laptop

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  • You should choose one of the following approaches :-
    1. encrypt the whole system (e.g. BitBlocker for Windows, FileVault for MacOS)
    2. encrypt your home directory (FileVault for MacOS, Encrypted Home for Ubuntu)
    3. store sensitive data on an encrypted volume or encrypted USB key using a tool such as VeraCrypt, but see warning below.
    4. individually encrypt files containing sensitive data

  • You should ensure that you are using antivirus software. Users of Windows systems are accustomed to running antivirus software, but Apple Mac systems are increasingly being targeted by virus and malware authors so it is strongly advised that users of these systems also deploy antivirus software.

  • Use strong passwords, ideally for all accounts on your machine

  • If you habitually sleep your machine rather than shutting it down, so that if it were lost or stolen it might be in the sleep state, configure it to ask for a password on waking.

Issues

When storing sensitive data on an encrypted volume or USB key, be aware that many applications will store temporary unencrypted copies of that data in application temporary directories. You can reduce this risk by frequently running a tool such as the Windows disk cleaner utility.

Further reading

The University provides guidance on information security which is helpful, accessible and well worth reading. It includes sections on encryption and anti-virus and also covers security for mobile phones and tablets.

Last reviewed: 
22/09/2016

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