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Old 09-20-2011, 03:10 PM
 
267 posts, read 319,990 times
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Hello,

Please share your good ideas to protect your sensitive data on the internet.

It sounds smart to get a cheap laptop dedicated to sensitive information. This would be used for 10% of my computer needs:

1) Credit card transactions with reputable online companies and paying bills
2) Online banking and retirement fund
3) Applications requiring social security number, address, and phone number
4) More?

My frivolous browsing and learning would be used for 90% of my computer needs. If I got hacked with a trojan, there would be no information to send to the criminal who planted it.

Can you think of some other things to create a safer internet?

I clear my history and temp files regularly, but my main computer probably needs to be thoroughly cleaned. Can this be done without reformatting the whole thing?
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:50 PM
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Location: Ohio
16,897 posts, read 33,631,471 times
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Personal finance radio guy Clark Howard only recommends a separate computer for businesses to do their banking. Apparently Federal law does not require financial institutions to cover fraud that happens against business credit card and bank accounts. http://www.clarkhoward.com/news/clar...business/nFD8/

The finance computer is never ever used for email or any other web surfing.

For individuals, the law requires the financial institution to insure the customer against this type of fraudulent activity, so individuals don't need a second computer.
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:53 AM
 
2,791 posts, read 3,433,809 times
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No need for a second computer. If you are that worried about it there are some steps you can take. For sensitive files use an external hard drive and keep it turned off when not in use or a flash drive you only use for that purpose and only connect when you need the files.

To prevent any passwords, browsing history, account information from being saved in your browser you can use the "Private browsing" feature found in the tools of your browser. I think it is called "Inprivate browsing" in IE but I'm not positive as I very rarely ever use IE. Private browsing does not save any of the information from the browsing session so you don't have to worry about deleting history, cookies or passwords etc.

You can go a step further if you are the paranoid type and use a Live CD or Live USB operating system.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:16 AM
 
28,607 posts, read 40,593,270 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flip33 View Post
I clear my history and temp files regularly, but my main computer probably needs to be thoroughly cleaned. Can this be done without reformatting the whole thing?
Ccleaner

Download, install, and run.

Go to Tools/Drive Wiper, and choose Free Space Only from the drop down menu. Choose your method of overwriting (Since you are so paranoid use 35 passes) and check the drive(s) you want to clear. Click Wipe and go get some coffee.

This only runs when you tell it to.

To clean the stuff you normally get rid of like cookies, etc go to Options/Settings and fill in the radio button for Secure File Deletion. Again you want to choose the level of overwrite. Check the Wipe MFT Free Space box.

This is what it will do every time you run the cleaner.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:18 PM
 
16,308 posts, read 25,262,012 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flip33 View Post
Hello,

Please share your good ideas to protect your sensitive data on the internet.
The best way to feel comfortable that nothing on your computer is compromising your information would be to boot from a live-CD of a popular Linux distro. It will provide all the function you would need and because it is running from CD, nothing could be installed.

An old reserve laptop is still susceptible to being infected anytime you are connected to the internet.

Advantages: It's free, doesn't require additional computer, and when you turn the computer off, all your tracks that were in RAM are gone.

Option 2:
Run the browser sandboxed. Install sandboxie which will segregate the RAM used, plus any temp files, history, etc. stored on disk once the sandbox is closed. Won't attempt to explain it all here, but the site explained how it works. (Actually any program can be run sandboxed once this is installed, but typically defaults to the most risky program we all run, our browsers.)

Has the same advantages as a live-cd plus you don't have to reboot, etc.

Last edited by Asheville Native; 09-21-2011 at 03:00 PM.. Reason: tpyo.....z
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Old 09-22-2011, 08:25 AM
 
40,182 posts, read 41,790,512 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flip33 View Post
1) Credit card transactions with reputable online companies and paying bills
2) Online banking and retirement fund
3) Applications requiring social security number, address, and phone number
4) More?
You can use something like Knoppix for this, another computer is not needed.

Knoppix is a Linux based OS that boots from a CD, it's like having fresh install every boot.
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Old 09-23-2011, 03:48 AM
 
267 posts, read 319,990 times
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Thank you. Maybe I just got a bee in my bonnet from reading horror stories online. Also, my CC did get hijacked and used without my knowledge once. I was not liable, but it made me worry.

Your ideas are appreciated.
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Old 09-23-2011, 04:46 PM
 
Location: Tyler, TX
15,209 posts, read 18,490,079 times
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One of the steps we take to secure our sensitive data is to store it in an encrypted container mounted as a hard drive. This keeps it nice and safe, and the parallelization makes it very fast.

TrueCrypt - Free Open-Source On-The-Fly Disk Encryption Software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X and Linux
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Old 09-23-2011, 04:51 PM
 
Location: Tyler, TX
15,209 posts, read 18,490,079 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flip33 View Post
Also, my CC did get hijacked and used without my knowledge once.
It's happened to me twice in as many months. Most recently, my business card was used to buy over $1,000 of Ralph Lauren crap. This happened two days ago... Before that, it was at a mall in Pennsylvania.

My business card is given out over the phone and online MANY times each day. Dealing with this crap is just part of doing business. Gotta watch the account like a hawk, and take advantage of ANY tools the bank gives you. In the most recent case, I was alerted by email instantly because the transaction was over the alert limit I set. If I hadn't caught it when I did, they may have used it a lot more, and really left us in a lurch.
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Old 09-25-2011, 11:52 AM
 
80 posts, read 128,810 times
Reputation: 65
Generally a good idea if the computer is to be used to handle very sensitive information. In the most extreme case, never connect it to the internet at all and TrueCrypt - Free Open-Source On-The-Fly Disk Encryption Software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X and Linux the drive.
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