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Securing Your Personal Data: Top Free Tools and Apps

written by: J. Forlanda•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 1/31/2010

Securing personal data is important to anyone who uses computers and the Internet today; however, not everyone knows what top free tools are out there to help in the quest to secure their personal data. Read on if you want to know what these top free tools and apps are and where you can get them.

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    Overview

    If you are new to the concept of personal data security, please make sure to read part 1 of this 2 part article. Here we will review the different classes of how one could leak or lose personal data, and what specific software solution you can use to protect your personal data. Specifically, this article will enumerate free computer security programs that anyone can download and use free of charge. And it will only list those tools that are free security for PC and that are the best security for your PC platform. The top free tools and apps will be grouped accordingly in how they help secure personal data:
    • From loss of computer or data storage device
    • Malware infection prevention
    • Phishing victim prevention
    • Controlling disclosure to online networking sites
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    From loss of computer or storage device

    If you lose your computer or your external storage device (e.g. USB drive or USB thumb drive), any personal data stored on those devices is an open book to anyone who finds them. You cannot guarantee that you will never lose or misplace your computer, external USB drive, or thumb drive, but you can certainly guarantee that no one else can access your personal data by using encryption technology that is freely available to anyone who has Internet access.

    There are many free computer security programs out there for the PC platform. The ones I list here are some of the top solutions in their field and best security for your PC in their class.

    • TrueCrypt: a free open-source disk encryption software for Windows (download TrueCrypt)
    • PGP Desktop: PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy. PGP Desktop is a commercial product of PGP Corporation. When the trial version expires, its encryption function continues to be free and available (download PGP Desktop trial)
    • BitLocker: If you have the Enterprise or Ultimate versions of Windows Vista or Windows 7, then it comes bundled with BitLocker. Explore the features of BitLocker at Microsoft.com.

    You can combine encryption with online storage solutions to remove the chance you'll lose personal data. This way you can save your personal data on encrypted files or volumes and then back it up online. If you ever lose your laptop, your personal data is secure (because it is encrypted), and you can recover it from the online backup service. There are free ones out there; here are some:

    • iDrive: provides initial 2GB of free storage space
    • ADrive: ADrive basic plan provides 50GB of free storage space (make sure to encrypt before uploading)
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    Malware infection prevention

    There are thousands and thousands of malware, virus, spyware, worms, and other nasty things out there on the Internet. Without any protection, it would only take seconds for your computer to get infected. Some of these threats can damage your files or steal your personal data, and if your excuse for not having protection is that you can't afford it, then look no more. Here, I list free computer security programs that can protect you from these threats and thus help secure your personal data.

    For good measure, you can install these free computer security programs designed to protect your personal data from being exposed to spyware or keyloggers:

    • KeePass Password Safe: everyone has too many accounts to remember; if you make it easy for yourself to remember all your accounts and passwords, then it will be easy for hackers to break them; best security for your PC is to secure all your unique and hard to break account IDs and password in KeePass, then all you have to remember is one master password (get KeePass)
    • KeyScrambler Free: if you suspect that your computer is infected with spyware running a keylogger, then you'll need KeyScrambler (get KeyScrambler Free)
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    Phishing victim prevention

    Many people do not realize this, but e-mail is not secure. You can get e-mail from people or organizations that claim to be someone they aren't, and you may not be able to tell the difference unless you are an above average computer geek. Since most people aren't above average computer geeks, they will need the aid of a third party solution to keep themselves from becoming phishing victims. When you become a phishing victim, you put your personal data at risk. The list of free security for PC platform solutions below are free yet effective.

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    Controlling disclosure to online networking sites

    No software out there that can really help you prevent the posting of personal information or data on legitimate sites. Provided that you have not leaked out any of your personal data already, the only thing that can control and secure your personal data and information from leaking out is you!

    Use common sense and really understand the privacy policy of the networking sites you are using. Then spend time to figure out how to best configure your privacy settings. The list below can get you started:

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    Open Invitation to list Other Top Free Tools and Apps

    If you know of other free tools and apps you've used to help protect or secure your personal data, don't hesitate to share it with us. Just post the name of the product, what it does, and its corresponding URL. Thanks for stopping by and reading my article.

Securing your personal data

In todays digital age, when your personal data is compromised, it will can lead to the degredation of your financial standing or profile (i.e. big headache and loss of money). Learn personal computer data security concepts and find top free security PC tools to help protect your personal data
  1. Securing Your Personal Data: Introduction
  2. Securing Your Personal Data: Top Free Tools and Apps