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Solutions: Keeping sensitive files safe from hackers

I'd like to protect my sensitive computer files. In searching online I found numerous options. Most of them are aimed at keeping files away from other users of a computer. My computer is in my home and I am the only user. What I want to do is keep potential hackers from getting into such files. What are my options?

In a business situation, commercial software and all the safeguards that go with it make sense. In a home situation, I worry about encryption software that may not be around or may be incompatible with a future operating system when the time comes to decrypt your files. If you inadvertently install malevolent software, getting in is no longer a problem for hackers, they're already there. From that point, they can disable any other safeguards you may have in place. Nothing is 100 percent safe if it's online. If you don't want to go with third-party encryption software, transferring the files from your PC to a detached external drive and then securely erasing them (there are several free secure erasers that will rewrite zeros over the old file space) would be the most practical way of keeping hackers away.

My Malwarebytes has found 5 to 123 malwares per day for the past month. Most of them are PUP SweetIM Messenger. If I Google information, my homepage Road Runner is changed to various other search engines and toolbars are added that I have not requested.

I would start by uninstalling any of the PUP (potentially unwanted software) that you can find and disable any related browser add-ons (Tools, Manage Add-ons). Since any virus could have already corrupted or changed any program on your system including AntiMalware and your antivirus, use the Windows Defender Offline to create a boot CD, allowing you to boot into Windows without activating any resident virus and perform a full scan of your hard drive. Once complete, download and install new versions of Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware as they may have been corrupted. Read more at US/windows/what-is-windows-defender-offline. Don't install SweetIM or any other sketchy add-ons. You don't need them. Keep your PC as simple as possible and use safe behavior when browsing.

I perform a lot of insurance inspections and send lots of pictures along with reports (PDF). When I attach the pics to the subject line, Outlook will only let me send individual pictures on the subject line. Is there any way to attach the complete folder without having the folder opened? Some agents prefer one folder and not 10 or 15 individual pictures. I don't want to send zipped folders because most businesses don't trust them.

Other than using a Compressed Folder ZIP file, I do not know of any way to do this with a normal file folder (if anyone has suggestions, please send them in). This is what I would do to as a workaround: Open a new Word document. From a File Explorer window, drag the picture files onto the empty Word page (you can use CTRL-a to select all files). Save the Word file and then attach it to your Outlook message. Not an elegant solution, but at least you're now sending just one instead of multiple files.

Send questions to or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Keeping sensitive files safe from hackers 01/24/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 24, 2014 6:33pm]
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