Six Ways to Start Off Secure in '08


Nobody wants to court disaster. And yet, even power computer users often fall into the apathy trap, failing to take simple steps to secure their devices and networks. In this post, I’ll gather up six tips that can get you off to a good, secure start in 2008.

Get a USB Thumb Drive for Backups. Prices have fallen on USB thumb drives to the point where you can get lots of capacity for very little money. Unless you work with extremely large files, you can use one to back up your critical files with ease, and have access to them anywhere if you keep your drive on a keychain. I use a 4GB $150 drive from Ironkey that keeps my files encrypted. If my primary hard disk were to crash, I’d be back up and running in a flash. As a bonus, the Ironkey drive comes with virtual private network (VPN) software I can use to stay secure whenever I connect online from, say, a hotspot.

Use a VPN in Public. There are numerous, free, simple software applications you can use to create a virtual private network (VPN) from anywhere you’re connected. A VPN keeps your communications and data secure from hackers and other threats. I wrote about several good, free examples recently.

Use the “S” with GMail. Countless web workers rely on GMail as their primary e-mail engine. If you use the following URL when you go into GMail, you’ll ensure that your session is protected by SSL security—the most widely deployed security protocol there is:

Run and Regularly Update a Security Suite. Security suites now include most of the key software tools you need to run to stay safe from everything from malware to phishers. They’re also inexpensive. Yet even very sophisticated users often fail to keep their security software updated. Don’t fall into that trap. My favorite suite is Norton Internet Security 2008, from Symantec, which has gone through a bunch of performance updates. It’s under $60.

Be Sure Your Home Wi-Fi Network is Secure. Even if you’ve already set up security on your home Wi-Fi network, which many people haven’t, you should still check to make sure you are using the latest protocols. See our guide to Wi-Fi for security instructions. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2) is what you should using, and if you’ve had your Wi-Fi network in place for a long time, you may be using WEP, which is proven to be inferior.

Clean Up and Tune Up Your Computer—Free. Why not start 2008 with a cleaned up hard drive, all malware removed, a pristine registry and a healthy computer? Here’s a post detailing how to get all this done quickly and at no cost.

Do you have any good tips on security?


John Doe

I recommend bitdefender as a very good virus program.

I recommend as very good thumb drive.

I recommend computrace to keep track of your laptop should it get stolen.

I recommend a online storage unit to backup your stuff online every month.


I also have a back up drive and have been using it for a couple of years…ever since my pc crashed for the 3rd time and i lost a bunch of valuable files. It was very easy to set up and only cost around $60.


ZDNet says Norton 2008 is still a pig, even though you mentioned “performance updates”. I think there are better options out there. I’ve been good with AVG for years.


I’m wondering how your readers are doing online account credential management. For whatever reason, I decided to count the pages of output generated when I print my list of online accounts. I came up with 5 pages. Not counting a very old list going back to the mid 90s that is another 4 pages.

My lists are encrypted, but 9 pages is still a crazy-large set of credentials. What ever happened to single sign-on, eh?


Good advice.
I’ve just bought a 4GB PNY USB drive for 25 EUR (~ $37).
It does not encrypt files though. So I’m gonna install a software to get an encrypted volume for personal data.

Actually I’d recommend to use 2 USB drives for backups since a HDD crash can happen while over-writing an old backup (This kind of thing ALWAYS happens at the worst moment!).

While you’re at portable devices, why not write a blog entry on portable application suites? I’ve just downloaded the LibertyKey one, but it’s a French one and may not be of interest to your readers.

Luke L

Rather than use a thumb drive I’d recommend getting an external hard drive. I got a 320Gb model for £50 (~$100) and it’s worked perfectly, compared to a few memory sticks that have lost data at certain points. Apart from that though, good advice.

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