A few nights ago I had a strange dream, a nightmare really. It was that someone had broken into my house and stole a hard drive from one of my computers. The strange thing is that they did not touch my newer computers. They didn’t even go to the computers that had really important data on them. They went for the hard drive on my favorite computer.
The machine they targeted—which happens to be the one I am using to write this—is a 6 year old notebook computer on which I have recently wiped the drive and installed the latest version of Linux Mint. I have an almost empty drive with 220 GB of the 250 GB hard drive free. On top of that, I am using this computer as a cloud based system. All of my files on this machine are being saved to either Google Drive or Dropbox. There is nothing that lives exclusively on this machine. So if it were stolen or busted, I would lose nothing.
I am not sure what kind of anxiety I was having with this computer that might have caused the targeted nature of this dream.
The bad guys broke into the house and broke open the computer. It was almost like they went in from the keyboard side of the notebook and ripped the hard drive out violently. There was a rectangular hole in the keyboard where the hard drive used to be. Strange dream.
But it affected me in an odd way. I immediately started thinking about by backup plan and password strategy. Over the next two days I ended up writing three articles at Missionary Geek about passwords and protecting them.
The first is about how to build good unique passwords that you can remember but that are complicated enough to be secure. You have to avoid words that are found in a dictionary and you should not use the same password at multiple sites.
The second article was about using password managers. I use LastPass, but there are other good password managers. Since my wife and I share multiple accounts, we also share our LastPass vault. When my friend’s wife died suddenly last year, I thought much about the nightmare it would be for my wife to try and get into accounts to either take possession of them herself, or close them down. Because of sharing a LastPass vault, she is able to get into any of my 120+ accounts that are managed there. Besides that convenience, password managers help you generate unique passwords that are stronger than you would probably make on your own since there is no need to memorize 120+ passwords anymore.
The final article in the series is written for those who travel and have to use computers that they don’t completely control. In these situations you should always be leery of keylogging hardware or software. That article has a pretty solid strategy for avoiding having your passwords stolen by keystroke loggers.
I have not come up with a series of article about backing up your hard drives yet, but in the mean time you should do some reading and put a plan in place if you are not doing something already.
I hope my nightmare can be a help to you in building a better password strategy.