Online data backup dangers, tips


by Doug Delony / KHOU 11 News

Posted on August 3, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 3 at 11:27 AM

HOUSTON – We live in a digital world, which means you probably store thousands of family photos and other personal data on your home computer. This is why it’s always a good idea to have your hard drive backed up, but it’s also a good idea to do it in a way that protects your privacy.

Websites like Drop Box, Mozy and Carbonite make it easy to store your files online. Some of them will even automatically upload your computer’s data to the Web for regular backups. While these types of services are convenient and have a lot of security in place, you need to be aware of the risks.

Earlier this week, admitted that an employee’s password was stolen, allowing someone on the Internet to log in and get the e-mail addresses for a small number of its customers. This person was then able to figure out the passwords for a small number of Drop Box users, giving them access to personal data.

It wasn’t a hacker who got into this personal data. It was simply someone who was able to track down the Drop Box users’ passwords.

Since then, Drop Box launched new security features to help prevent this from happening again, but there’s a lesson here for all of us: never use the same password on multiple websites; include numbers or unique characters in your passwords; change your passwords every few months.

What about backing up your data beyond online services? Maybe you’d feel better about keeping the data in your home? Often, home burglary suspects will look for laptops, hard drives, CDs and USB drives, hoping there is valuable information on them.

Here are a few tips to save money and keep your data safe:

>> Keep your files organized and in one place on your computer (i.e. in a folder like “My Documents” as this makes it easier to regularly back up files)
>> Use a USB cable to download your smart phone photos and other data; also put these in My Documents
>> Put all the files on an external hard drive, a USB drive, or on DVD/CD
>> Hide the backup files in your house or place them in a fire safe
>> Back up your computer once a month

Following these steps keeps your information safe without the monthly cost of an online backup service. And as a side note, no, you don’t need to go out and buy $30 backup software. As long as you keep your files organized, it’s very easy to make a backup.

Questions? Comments? Reach out to me: / Twitter @DougDelonyKHOU